How to Play the Knockout Basketball Game

Updated on April 1, 2020
LauraGSpeaks profile image

Laura has been an online writer for over seven years. Her articles focus on everything from sports to cooking.

Knockout is a great game to practice basketball skills
Knockout is a great game to practice basketball skills | Source

The "knockout" game of basketball is a fun game to play and an effective way to help kids practice fundamental basketball skills. To avoid being knocked out, the basic premise is to make a basket before the person behind you does. The last person in the game is the winner.

The Largest Game of Knockout

According to the Guinness World Book of Records, the largest game of knockout basketball was played at the University of Iowa by 571 people on April 17, 2012.

The Rules of Knockout

To play Knockout, you need at least three players, two basketballs, a free throw line and a basketball hoop. It can be played indoors or outdoors.

  1. Form a single line behind the free throw line.
  2. The first two players in line should have a basketball.
  3. The first player shoots a free throw. If he makes it, he gets his rebound and returns to the back of the line.
  4. If the first player misses his initial shot, he needs to quickly get the rebound and takes another shot from anywhere on the court. Easy layup shots can be taken if desired. He keeps shooting until he makes a shot. When the shot is made, he passes the ball to the person behind the shooter.
  5. Once the first player shoots his initial free throw, the next player in line can shoot his free throw. If he makes it before the person in front of him, he has just "knocked out" the player. If he misses the free throw, he must hurry to get the rebound and shoot. Once again, if he makes it before the person in front of him, he knocks out the first player. However, if the player behind him makes a shot before he does, then he is the one knocked out.
  6. The play continues until there is one player remaining.

Basketball Skills Learned from Playing Knockout

Knockout is an excellent game to work on player development and home in on these fundamental skills and techniques in the game of basketball.

Free Throw Shooting: As the old saying goes, "Practice makes perfect." The best free throw shooters take several hundred shots a day. Knockout can help a player practice good shooting form. Good shooters make following their shot a habit.

Rebounding: Knockout helps players learn what direction a ball will go on a missed shot. Players will learn to anticipate where the ball is going and quickly move to that spot. The game also reinforces quickly going up with the ball for a shot after getting a rebound.

Layups: If the rebound goes long, it is best to do a layup for an easy shot. Players can practice both right handed and left handed layups during the game of Knockout. Knockout helps reinforce the importance of speed and accuracy when shooting layups.

Shooting Under Pressure: In Knockout, every second counts. It's a race to make your shot to stay in the game and remove your opponents. It is a great way to practice shooting under pressure.

Passing: After shooting the player passes the ball to the next player. Solid, crisp passes are expected.

Speed: Knockout helps players practice quick bursts of speed as they quickly sprint to the ball to get the rebound.

The Best Free Throw Shooters in the NBA

Successful basketball players must be accurate from behind the line. According to the Bleacher Report, the following current NBA players lead the league in free throw shooting:

  1. Steve Nash
  2. Chauncey Billups
  3. Ray Allen
  4. Joe Calderon
  5. Kevin Durant

Have Fun With Knockout

I have coached youth basketball for several years and have used the game of Knockout as a fun, skill-based game to play at the end of practices. The players love the competition and the length of the game is typically not too long to get boring.


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    • LauraGSpeaks profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Thank you Ujiva. I appreciate your comments.

    • profile image

      Ujiva Nelson 

      5 years ago

      These blogs are quite incredible that have provided the best knowledge.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Ok, you got little ones, Mine are 12 year olds, I've had the same team together for 7 years now, they are pretty good.

    • LauraGSpeaks profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      Alphadogg16, the kids I am coaching aren't quite strong enough to hit threes, but I like the idea!

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      7 years ago from Texas

      I coach my sons basketball team, and they love to play this game after practice. They play it from both the free throw and the three point line.


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