As a Middle school Physical Education teacher, I have discovered that many students get easily bored with basketball-related units. Perhaps students tire of learning the same units year after year or maybe it’s the amount of skills-work involved that discourages them. I’ve also noticed that students exhibit a wide range of proficiencies when it comes to basketball, which can, at times, be very intimidating for some students.
Recently, a group of students approached me to express a desire to change the regular basketball-unit activities. They requested something “new” and different from what they had been exposed to for most of their schooling. Based on my observations and my students’ request, I decided to explore the idea of incorporating “team challenges” that mimic the NBA Skills Challenge to the basketball unit. I wanted to develop an activity that would be enjoyed by all students and that would give all students an equal and fair chance.
I came up with an activity I’m calling “The Skills Challenge”. The activity involves four different team-based challenges for the students to compete in. Having teams will add excitement to the activity and the teams can be split-up however the teacher wants and depending on class size. I make 4 teams of 5 students in my classes. This activity usually takes me 2-3 class periods that are about 40 minutes long with the students changing before and after class. There are 4 challenges that each teams competes in during the activity.
Check out the video I created for visuals of this activity, and a description of each activity below.
The first challenge is called poly spot jump shot. In this challenge, two teams compete against each other. Each team has one ball and is standing in a single file line behind the 3-point line. There are 3 poly spots (1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 green). The red poly spot is on the box by the basket and is worth one point. The yellow poly spot is on the elbow of the foul line and is worth two points. The green poly spot is behind the 3-point line on the wing and is worth three points. (See Diagram Below). On the whistle, the first player on each team is running to one of the poly spots depending on which shot they think they can make. They take the shot and if they make it, their team gets the points. If they miss, their team gets no points. Either way the student gets his or her rebound and passes to the next player in line. Teachers can set a time limit of five minutes and see who has the most amount of points, or they can set a point total, such as 21, that teams must reach in order to win the game.
The second challenge is called poly spot retrieval. This challenge has a similar set up but instead of just three poly spots, there are more, for example 10-20 for each team randomly placed on the court. (See Diagram Below). On the whistle, the first player on each team is running to one of the poly spots depending on which shot they think they can make. If they make it, they take the poly spot, get their rebound, pass to their teammate and then put the poly spot in their hula hoop. If they miss, they just get their rebound and pass to their teammate. The students will go until the five minutes are up, or until one team has collected all of their poly spots.
The third challenge is called race to 25. In this challenge, each team has one ball and is standing in a single file line behind the foul line. On the whistle, the first player on each team is taking a jump shot from the foul line. If this player makes the shot, the team will call out 1 and the player will get their rebound and pass to their next teammate. They keep going until one team reaches 25 made shots first. You can also set a time limit of 5 minutes and see which team made the most shots.
The final challenge is the one that most mimics the NBA Skills Challenge and is called Skills Race. In this challenge, there will be 4 cones, 2 poly spots and a hula hoop set up for each team. (See Diagram Below). The teams will stand on opposite corners of the court. On the whistle, the first player on each team is dribbling in and out of the cones to the poly spot. Once they get to the spot they will either bounce pass or chest pass through the hula hoop. They will then retrieve the ball and continue to the poly spot on their side of the court, where they will take a jump shot. From here, they will get their rebound and pass to their next teammate. The students receive 2 points for successfully passing the ball through the hoop. They receive 2 points for making the jump shot. The team who completes the challenge first receives an additional 3 points. You can make each student go 2 or 3 times through and they should sit when they have completed their turns. The team with the most points at the end wins that challenge.
In my class, I like to have each team compete against each other in the challenges. I keep track of each team’s wins and losses in each challenge and I have a bulletin board with all the data and the standings of each team. This sparks engagement and creates a sense of excitement amongst the students. At the end of the unit, there will be a winner for the entire class and their picture will be posted on the bulletin board.
I hope you enjoy this activity and let me know how it goes in the comments below if you try it in your classroom!
Not sure which basketball is right for your program? Check out the S&S Basketball Guide here.
About the Author:
Erik Schlemm is a Health and Physical Education teacher with one year of teaching experience. Erik graduated from Montclair State University and is an advocate of incorporating interdisciplinary learning and technology into physical education classes. His School Videos YouTube channel is starting to grow so be sure to check it out.