How to Play Horse (the Basketball Game)

Horse is a fun game that every basketball player or kid with a backyard hoop can enjoy. Get your best trick shots ready — Horse is a great chance to show them off! You'll need at least two players, but there's no limit to the number of players who can join in.


  1. Image titled Play Horse (the Basketball Game) Step 1
    Decide on an order of play. You can play Horse with two or more players. Just agree on an order for who plays first, then second, and so on.
    • If you can't decide, take turns shooting from the same spot. Whoever gets the most baskets in a row goes first, followed by second place, and so on.
  2. Image titled Play Horse (the Basketball Game) Step 2
    Let the first player invent a challenge shot. The first player takes a shot from anywhere on the court — or even outside the bounds! He can add "extra rules" to this shot too, but he has to announce them before shooting. For example, he can say "I'm shooting with my eyes closed" or "I'm shooting behind my back." He gets one try to make the basket.
  3. Image titled Play Horse (the Basketball Game) Step 3
    Give the next player the ball. The second player gets to take the next shot. This part depends on whether the last shot was successful:
    • If the first player made a basket: the second player has to copy whatever the first player did, including where he was standing.
    • If the first player missed the basket: the second player can shoot from anywhere, using any rules she wants to invent.
  4. Image titled Play Horse (the Basketball Game) Step 4
    Keep playing with the same rules. Whenever it's your turn, if the person before you made a basket, you have to copy them. If the person before you missed, it's your turn to invent a new challenge.
    • After the last player shoots, it's the first player's turn again.
  5. Image titled Play Horse (the Basketball Game) Step 5
    Get a letter when you fail a challenge. If you are trying to copy the person before you and you miss the basket, you get the letter H. Each time you make this mistake, you get a new letter, spelling out H—O—R—S—E. When you spell out the full "HORSE," you lose the game.
    • You can't get a letter while you are inventing a challenge. If you miss the basket, play just passes to the next player with no penalty.
  6. Image titled Play Horse (the Basketball Game) Step 6
    Invent a new challenge if everyone succeeds. If you invent a challenge, and every other player successfully makes the basket, you get to invent a new challenge.
  7. Image titled Play Horse (the Basketball Game) Step 7
    Play until there's one person left. When someone gets a "HORSE," he leaves the game. The other players keep playing, skipping his turn. Keep playing until there's one winner left in the game.

Challenge Ideas

  • Shoot from behind the backboard.
  • Shoot without using your dominant hand.
  • Shoot while sitting down.
  • Jump, shoot in the air, and land facing the other direction.
  • Take an underhand "granny shot."
  • Use a tennis ball and racquet instead of a basketball.

Optional Rules

  • No one is allowed to repeat a challenge that someone has successfully made.[1]
  • A player knocked out of the game can grab a ball that missed the basket and try the same challenge. If he does, he is back in the game with "H—O—R—S."
  • Play a shorter game spelling P—I—G instead.[2]
  • You can also play it where you gain a letter every time you score, and the first to get the word HORSE wins


  • Don't get mad or be a sore loser. Always congratulate the winner, and don't brag if you do win. Be a good sport or people will not want to play Horse with you again.
  • Be nice. If you're playing against much younger players, give them some easy challenges.
  • You can also play this game with words other than horse. Try using pig, loser, etc. or one of your own made up words!

Things You'll Need

  • Basketball
  • Basketball Hoop
  • Players

Article Info

Categories: Basketball Variation Games | Sports and Fitness