It is basketball season! Sideline cheerleaders are regrouping from winter break, and many teams are practicing new cheers and halftime routines. Some teams do add new members for the basketball season, so why not have a fun basketball-themed team-bonding practice? It is a great way to bring in new members to the team, and cement the transition from football season to basketball. The good news is: there are a lot of fun basketball drills you can do as a team, and in doing so, you can bring a different element to an ordinary team practice!

Something simple you can do is to create an obstacle course. Simply set up some cones, have some boxes or mats to climb or jump over in the gym, and pair it all with basketballs. Split up your team into pairs, and have one cheerleader blindfold the other. Have the blindfolded team member briskly walk the course while the other cheerleader walks with them, explaining where to go and how to complete the course. Once one team completes the course, the cheerleaders switch places and run the course again. This is always a favorite: not only is it hilarious, but it also helps teammates gain trust between one another, and improves communication skills.

Another fun team-bonding game is an actual basketball drill called “Golden Child”. This drill utilizes half of a basketball court, and you will need to divide your cheerleaders into two equal teams. Line up one team at the free-throw line. If that is too far, you can scoot your team in closer, since you want to make it hard, but not impossible for your team to make a basket! The other team is on the outside of the court in whatever corner you want them to start at. The team at the free-throw line has two or three basketballs, and each player takes turns shooting to make a basket (they will also need to shag their own basketballs, and throw it back to the next player in line to shoot). While one team is shooting, the other team will be dribbling a ball, running around the outside half of the basketball court. If a player on the shooting team makes a basket, that team yells “freeze” alerting the running player to freeze, and the next runner to start running around the court.

This is where you can make variation of the game, depending on how good your team is at making baskets. Typically, the game is over once all the runners are frozen. This might be a little hard if your team is not making a lot of baskets, because if a player is frozen, the second runner can unfreeze them by tagging them as they run past. If you don’t necessarily have a sharp-shooting cheer team, you can state that the game is not over until all shooting team members make one or two baskets. You might be thinking how do we keep score? Well, as the running team makes it all the way around to the starting point, give them a ball to dribble with for the second lap. Because these are cheerleaders and not basketball players, this might prove quite challenging, and slow the running team down a bit. Once someone makes a whole lap, call it a point. And, once the shooting team has all made one or two baskets, the team switches roles, and whoever has the most runs at the end wins. It is a very fun game, really fast-paced, and can get bit crazy with everyone running around. Your cheerleaders will have a blast!

Another fun game, of course, is good ol’ fashioned tag–with a basketball twist! Have two or three players that are ‘it’, and the rest of the team are ‘dribblers’. The dribblers are running around the basketball course, dribbling a basketball. The players that are ‘it’ then try and steal the dribblers’ balls as they weave around the court. If the ‘it’ players are successful at stealing a basketball, they are now a dribbler and the dribbler is now ‘it’. Try to encourage your team to talk to each other as they go to improve communication and promote teamwork.

Team-bonding practices are meant to be fun! So, be creative as a coach, and try to engage all the members of your team. Be sure to partner your team members with people they don’t normally talk to, or hang out with. Or, team up new members with veteran team members. The ultimate goal is to have fun, and get your team to bond!

Have you hosted a basketball-themed team practice? Let us know how it went in the comments!