H-O-R-S-E is a basketball skills/shooting competition that can be enjoyed with any number of players (2 minimum). This driveway staple has been providing NBA inspired thrills for decades. It’s one of the truly perfect and simple games that will live forever because it’s easy to play and very satisfying at all ability levels. Gather the crew and crack some sports drink, this is your ScoreBoredSports guide to H-O-R-S-E.
Basic mechanics are like this. Player A calls their shot from the floor, if they make it, it is now on Player B to make the same exact shot. If Player B misses, they get a letter (An ‘H’ if it’s your first). Get all the letters to spell “HORSE” and you are out.
If Player A misses their called shot, then it’s Player B’s turn to call a shot. After a letter is given out, the next player in the order is up. So in a two person game, the loser gets a letter and the winner is back to picking a challenge.
When playing with a group, same rules apply, the person who misses the shot gets the letter. So if Player A makes a hook shot from the elbow, then each player goes until someone misses. If everyone makes it, Player A must invent something else.
For a shorter or longer game, change the target word. Instead of H-O-R-S-E, we would play P-I-G or G-R-A-N-D-M-A-M-A depending how much time we had.
If Player A calls a shot and everyone makes it then player A gets a letter. This rule encourages you to take difficult shots. Player A is such a wuss for playing it safe.
Try teams. You and your partner takes turns shooting but collect letters together. This only seems necessary if you have huge numbers that want in and if that’s the case then just play real 5-5 basketball.
Play on horseback. Never done this, seems too rich for my blood. Could be awesome. Isn’t this just polo?
Practice a trick shot. At least one move that’s irregular and you have decent odds of making. Every game of H-O-R-S-E I’ve ever played had some jerk making a backwards shot that no one could reproduce.
Play to your opponent’s weaknesses. Do you know Timmy can’t use his left hand? Then maybe a reverse southpaw layup may trip him up. Or maybe the other players don’t have much range, try a 3 from well beyond the line, Steph Curry style.
If you are way out-classed in terms of basketball skills then make sure you are at least smarter and better at spelling than the competition. That may buy you a few extra letters before you get bounced off the cooouuuurrrttttt.
H-O-R-S-E rocks because you don’t have to break a sweat to feel like you’ve competed. Plus it’s possible you can beat a much more athletic person than yourself. And in general, it’s a great lazy way to spend a summer day. My go-to shot is the granny-style free throw. Leave your fav trick shot in the comments below and maybe I’ll see you in the driveway. At least until the street lights come on.
No real horses were harmed in the making of this.
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