How to Practice Pickup Basketball Etiquette

Pickup basketball is meant to be played for fun, to break a sweat and experience some exciting basketball action. Nobody gets paid to play this version of the game, which is why the need to get a good result on the court is not a matter of life and death.

Typically, there are no referees in pickup basketball, which is why the on-court matters are handled by the players themselves. This often leads to arguments regarding the validity of a foul call, the selection of people who are given the opportunity to participate in the game, and the best way to handle violations.

It is possible to avoid unnecessary arguments and tension during pickup basketball by simply upholding the etiquette of the game. These etiquettes have been designed to keep the game fun and fair for everyone.


  • 1

    Before starting a game of pickup basketball, the first issue that a person may come across is the composition of the team. Everyone gathered at the court wants to play, but it is only possible for 10 of them to participate in the game. The right thing to do in such a situation is to give priority to the people who have arrived at the court before others and not played a single game as yet. Some of the players, especially the seniors, may put up some resistance. Try to reason with them to diffuse the situation.

  • 2

    If there is a disagreement over the validity of a foul call, the proper way to settle the dispute and decide who gets possession of the ball is to shoot a free throw. This will give both teams a fair chance to get possession of the ball and at the same time, bring the tension down.

  • 3

    In case of a violation, such as double-dribble, travelling, or anything of the sort, an appropriate call and decision should be made. However, if the player that committed the violation or foul begins to argue and appears to be in no mood to listen, then the best thing to do is to give them the ball or allow them to have the point that they are asking for. Making a compromise in such situations curbs the tension that begins to rise, and allows the game to continue smoothly.

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