"Dribble Knockout" - A Fun Skill Building Variation of the Classic Game

Home > Coaching > Drills > Dribbling > "Dribble Knockout" - A Fun Skill Building Variation of the Classic Game

This is a fun game that will improve ballhandling, shooting, finishing, and conditioning. We simply take the classic game of "knockout" and add some dribbling variations to turn it into a better skill builder.

This is a really fun drill that we use all the time. It's effective for all ages (kindergarten to high school).

You can play this game in your drive way, in the school yard, or in the gym.


The game is played just like the traditional knockout, except players start on the baseline and must dribble before shooting.

Players line up on the baseline as shown.

The first 3 players have a ball. If you have a longer line, you might want the first 4 players to have a ball.

The game starts with the first player dribbling around the cone as fast as they can. Then they attack the basket and pull up for a jump shot at the free throw line.

The second player can start as soon as the first player makes one dribble. This adds pressure to the first player and keeps the gaming moving fast.

The pattern continues and the next player can go after the person ahead of them takes one dribble.

When a player reaches the free throw line, they must shoot. If they make it, they give the ball to the next person in line. If they miss, they must follow their shot and put the ball in the basket before the person behind them makes it.

If the person behind you makes their shot before you do, you're out (knocked out).

The game continues until only one player is left. The last player standing is the winner and you start over again.

Optionally you can award two winners since it can sometimes take a while when you get down to only two players.

In this drill, players will really have to hustle to knock each other out and win the game. It can turn into a tough conditioner.

You should of course work both sides so you practice dribbling and shooting going both directions. Simply move the line and the cone from the left side to the right side.

If you don't have a cone you can use a chair, garbage can, or about anything you want.


There are numerous variations that allow you to work on additional dribbling skills. Here are a few variations.

The diagram on the right shows how you can set up additional obstacles to weave through.

The drill works exactly the same except now you are weaving through each cone instead of running around just one.

With this set up you can add the following rules to vary the skill you are targeting:

  • Left hand dribble only.
  • Right hand dribble only.
  • Cross over at each cone.
  • Through legs at each cone.
  • Behind back at each cone.
  • Spin at each cone.

You can also set up the cones in a ziz-zag formation and make them go around each cone.

There really is no limit to what you can do. Decide what you want to work on, then come up with rules and obstacles so you can work on that skill before shooting the ball.

We have lots of fun with this drill.

Kids love it and they don't even realize they are getting better with their left hand, cross over, or what ever skill you're focusing on.

It's a great way to "sneak in" some skill development and have fun.

Related Pages & Helpful Resources

60 FUN Youth Basketball Drills and Games
30 Dribbling Drills for Coaches
7 FUN Ways for Parents to "Sneak In" Basketball Skills with their Kids
Ballhandling Fundamentals

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


Most Likes First   Oldest First   Newest First

Lance says:
12/4/2014 at 1:46:02 PM

To avoid players throwing it off the backboard for an easy putback, just make a rule that it has to hit the rim or you have to shoot from the foul line again (or any spot you choose).


Ken Sartini says:
12/3/2014 at 8:24:46 AM

You could always have them work on some ball handling skillls.

Typically you would run this at the end of practice as a fun way to end it.


Luke says:
12/2/2014 at 10:41:43 PM

I don't like when kids get "knocked out". Then what do they do? stand around and watch?

I would have them keep track of how many times the guy before them scored and the guy with the fewest points after 5 minutes wins. Low score wins.

That way everyone keeps shooting.

you can vary the time how you want. The above is a great variation. I'll use it in my next practice with my 4th graders

thanks again Jeff!!!

  1 reply  

Regan says:
2/20/2020 at 4:04:46 PM

I never like the "knocked out" part for practice either because usually the less skilled players (who need the work) don't get many touches on the ball. I play knockout a lot in my practices. In my version, every time you knock someone out you cut in front of them in line. We play for a few minutes and then huddle up to tell everyones score. Then play again. Two good things about this change: 1) everyone gets lots of touches on the ball, 2) stepping in front of them when you knock them out prevents a good shooter from racking up point by being behind a weak shooter. To rack up points you have to go through the entire team.


James says:
8/19/2014 at 1:51:45 PM

Sounds like one of the best fun game I will be playing soon. Thanks guys for the information you are giving us as coaches for FREE!!! Some will be commercializing it.

  1 reply  

John says:
10/11/2015 at 9:15:42 PM

I want to also thank you for being a great resource where a volunteer parent/coach of youth basketball can turn to receive quality information. Many thanks and much love!



Mark says:
1/24/2014 at 12:00:43 AM

LOVE THIS! My kids (4th - 6th grade) love the traditional knockout from the free throw line and I have always enforced a no double dribble no travel rule, but this will take that to another level especially with my girls who are a little short in the skills of dribbling and shooting without thinking. THANK YOU for this!


shlomo says:
12/7/2013 at 5:06:23 AM

When they throw the ball off of the backboard,they get rebound practice in also.


Ken Sartini says:
12/4/2013 at 1:11:37 PM

Paul -

Great twist.... but I wonder if some kids would try throwing / shooting it off the front of the rim?? OR some part of the rim to have it bounce where they want it?


Paul W says:
12/3/2013 at 6:18:16 PM

Great idea, I will try this tomorrow with my team's first practice!
Ken - as far as the throwing off the backboard for a layup I have a simple rule tweak to prevent that - the ball must hit rim. If not they dribble back to foul line and shoot jumper again.


Ken Sartini says:
11/28/2013 at 5:46:01 PM

Ken -

That is funny.... I have seen that when the game gets closer and they need a quick make. All part of the game I guess.


Ken says:
11/27/2013 at 6:54:54 PM

Do you have any concern that the players don''t concentrate on making the first shot, but throw it off the backboard and get the rebound and make the layup in a hurry so they don''t get knocked out? That is an issue I have witnessed.


Show More

Leave a Comment
Email (not published)
Fifteen plus one is equal to?  (Prevents Spam)
 Load New Question
Leave this Blank
    Check this box to receive an email notification when someone else comments on this page.