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5 Basketball Variations to Play in Your Backyard

Behind the free-throw line, through the fog, off the backboard.
Behind the free-throw line, through the fog, off the backboard.
Doug Menuez/Photodisc/Thinkstock

H-O-R-S-E is all about having fun -- and a little about one-upmanship -- as opposed to honing your basketball skills [source: Games ... For All Reasons!]. It's also a pretty versatile game, as it can be played with two or more players. The game begins with Player No. 1 deciding on a shot he wants to take, announcing it, then taking it. For example, he may say, "lay-up," or something zany, like, "Turn around in a circle twice, then shoot backwards through your legs." If Player No. 1 makes the shot he calls, Player No. 2 must make the exact same shot. If Player No. 2 fails, he receives the letter "H." If he makes it, Player No. 3 must now make the shot, and so on [source: Gels]. If all players make the shot, the ball goes back to Player No. 1, who must re-make the shot. Play continues until someone misses this particular shot. Once someone misses, he receives an "H" and the next player in line calls the next shot [source: Gels].

So what happens if Player No. 1 calls a shot and doesn't make it? He gets an "H," and Player No. 2 calls a new shot. As the game continues, every time a player misses, the rest of the letters in the word "H-O-R-S-E" are added to his score. Once someone has received all five letters and spelled H-O-R-S-E, he's out. The last player left is the winner [source: Gels].

There are actually quite a few variations on the game of H-O-R-S-E. If there are a lot of players or the group is short on time, you may play P-I-G instead. P-I-G is the exact same game, only a shortened version, as you're spelling a three-letter word instead of a five-letter one [source: Gels]. Another variation is a rule change that says when a player spells H-O-R-S-E, he can stay in the game and erase the "E" he's just received if he makes a bonus shot. And sometimes, certain shots aren't allowed because of physical limitations. For example, if there are some really tall and really short players, one rule might be that a dunk isn't allowed, since the shorter players could never make that shot [source: Games ... For All Reasons!].