Canadian Coach Mike Mackay explains games from the book “Stability Ball Games” by John Byl

Having a Ball


Here are a bunch of games that were inspired by reading the book; Having a Ball: Stability Ball Games by John Byl. I adapted and invented games to fit a basketball context. I also loaded the games in various ways. These are excellent for players at the Fundamental and Learn to Train stages. I would suggest that some could be used with Train to Train and Train to Compete. Remember when ever you use a games aproach it is important to ask what the saftey concerns are for the game. Also, debrief what the learnings are that can be applied to the game of basketball in the future.


Pressure Tag

The players partner up with a team mate. They place a ball on their backs and must keep it there with pressure. This does not have to be a basketball. Each player also has a ball that they dribble.

At first let them practice moving about, working together. When the tag game starts, one pair is given pool noodles. They are moving about trying to tag the other pairs. If tagged with the noodle, that pair now becomes “it”. No re-tags allowed.

Excellent game for leadership, who leads? Who follows?


Knock out

Two players roll a stabilty ball across the floor. Other players practice chest passes or bounce passes to hit the moving ball. As they get better reduce the size of the ball and increase the speed. They could also pass off the dribble.

You could start with the ball being stationary in the middle of the floor and have the players try to knock the ball out of the court.

Safety is a concern with the looses balls. Have a way to deal with this issue.

Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars
The sun is the centre circle. You radiate planets (pylons) away from the centre circle. It helps if they are different colours. Each player (team) has a ball and lines up behind one line of pylons.

(Note: I am only showing one player for ease of understanding). On the signal to begin the player starts to dribble around the solar system (yellow pylons). The sceond time around he/she circles the green pylons. Finally the player reaches the sun. Since the sun is hot he/she cannot stay there for long and must retrace his/her path, dribbling with the opposite hand.

Another option is to have the player weave back to the starting point where the ball is given to the next player in line.

Players need to keep their heads up when doing this game as there are three other players going at the same time.

You can add in as many planets as you wish. The bigger the space the more it becomes conditioning.


All “it”

The players spread out around the gym and each player has a ball. On the signal to begin the players dribble trying to tag as many people as they can without being tagged. When you tag someone you must call out the number of tags you have. If two players tag at the same time a quick rock, paper, scissor to decide who gets the point. No one can tag these players when the rock, paper, scissors is occuring.

Some players will not try to score and take a totally defensive approach. You need to encourage them to take risks. By changing the size of the space you change the difficulty of the game.
This is a game where you could play three games at once:

  • All “it”
  • Dribble knock out
  • Normal tag

The coach uses a visual signal to change the game on the fly. In dribble knock out the players knock the opponents ball out of the designated area. Call out the number of balls you knock out.When the ball is knocked out the player returns immediately.

In normal tag one or more players are designated “it”. They keep track of the number of players they can tag. No one gets eliminated. By changing from one game to the other it loads the players mentally. They must be able to quickly change their focus to the rules or concepts of the new game.



Form a small diamond with four pylons. You want them close enough that the player in the middle can deflect the passes. One player has a ball and the other two players are at the plyons closest to the player with the ball.

The player in the middle is attempting to steal or deflect the pass. If this occurs, trade places with the passer. When the ball is passed the players must learn to fill the pylons closest to the the player with the ball.

Load this drill by adding a second defender. Increase the space.


Cat and Mouse

This is a quick passing game. The players partner up and stand in a circle beside their partner. You now have two teams the “cats” and the “mice”. The object of the game is for one of the teams to quickly pass the ball before the other team can pass the ball to the partner of the same player, who has the ball. Have the team count how many passs they make before the other team can catch them. The other way is to have a time limit.

You are not allowed to interfere with the other teams passes.
Load the game:

  • Allow them to pass to other people in any order (not in a circle)
  • Make them call the name to load it mentally
  • The receivers can move and the person with the ball can dribble
  • Start with a toss off the back board for a rebound



Here is a fun way to add some core strength to a practice. Have the players lie on the floor in a group of four in circle (it can be more or less you decide) with their heads next to the players feet. One player has a ball. This player does a sit up and passes the ball to the next player. The ball moves around the cirlce.


  • It can be a race vs. other groups.
  • Add a medicine ball
  • Have them do a back plank to move the ball under their body followed by a sit up.
  • Do a reverse sit up by placing the ball between the feet.