our everyday life

Basketball Games for 4-Year-Olds

by Anne Reynolds, studioD

It’s a breakaway! Smith steals the ball, dribbles down the floor, shoots and scores, winning the game as the buzzer sounds. If you're a basketball fanatic, you've imagined yourself in Smith’s shoes, leading your team to victory with a last-second shot. Preschoolers are at just the right age to teach simple basketball techniques and share with them the love of the game that you possess.

Getting Started

Take your child to the real thing -- a high school or college basketball game. Stay long enough to pique their interest but plan to leave when boredom sets in. Make it a fun event. Dance to the music during timeouts, cheer and clap for your favorite team and avoid insulting the refs. To capitalize on the experience, get a free-standing adjustable basketball hoop and a plastic or rubber ball about the same size as a regulation youth basketball. Set up the hoop and teach your 4-year-old the fundamentals.


Dance to the basketball music. Use music as a backdrop to dribbling games. Instruct your tyke to dribble whenever the song is played. Stop the song and the dribble at various intervals. Take turns stopping the music. Then play the direction change game. Shout out “right,” “left” or “double.” Dribble with the correct hand according to whichever word is used. Substitute other themes as well as dribbling a specified number of times or only dribbling when hearing a certain phrase in a song.


Teach your 4-year-old the bounce and chest pass. Reinforce passing techniques through basketball drill games. Outline two squares on your driveway using a piece of chalk. Practice the bounce pass, ensuring that the ball bounces inside the other player’s square (similar to the game of Four-Square.) Play Red Light, Green Light using the chest pass. Pass quickly back and forth. Stop passing to each other when “red light” is called out. Continue passing after you say “green light.” Count how many times you can pass to each other without dropping the ball and go out for ice cream once you have reached 10 successful passes.


Basketball has two objectives. Scoring points and defending the basket. Once your preschooler knows how to shoot, it is time to play games that hone their shooting skills. Adjust the classic basketball games of H-O-R-S-E. Pick any animal’s name. Every time your child makes a basket add the next letter of the name. The game is over once they spell out the animal’s name. Set a timer. Count how many times your tot shoots the ball and makes a basket. Make a chart and place stars on it when successful baskets are made. Set a goal based on the number of points scored. Once the goal is reached reward your child with a special treat or outing.

About the Author

Anne Reynolds is a writer who has worked for the U.S. government, the public school system and as a public library specialist. She began writing in 1990 and has contributed articles to various online publications.

Photo Credits

  • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images