Mon. May 25th, 2020

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The Ins and Outs of Pickup Basketball

Pickup Basketball

There are unwritten rules, stereotypes, ins and outs of playing pickup basketball. Referees are not present in pickup basketball. Picking teams can be a nightmare, and scoring is always a hassle. I’m not here to give you all the rules or how to keep score in pickup. But rather to give you some tips of the trade, funny stereotypes, and the ins and outs of playing pickup.


The Sweater

Pickup Basketball - the Sweater
Not a better way to show ‘The Sweater’ then the famous ‘Along Came Polly’ scene. Photo Credits to

Look we all know him. He always wants to be skins. He’s hairy, plays physical. You smell him the moment his shirt comes off. And because of all this, nobody wants to matchup against the sweater.

Mr. Heat Check

If one shot falls in, beware, cause everytime he touches the ball next, it is going up. He has zero conscious. It doesn’t matter how open he is, Mr. Heat Check will be chucking no matter what if he hits one shot.

The ‘I Got Next’ Guy

His teams never win, and that’s why he always has next. And because his team always loses, nobody wants to play with him. Always got to be on the lookout for the guy who always has next.

The Know-it-All

This guy probably played some sort of basketball past high school. So when he comes to the court, he always runs point, wants to move the ball, and run some plays. He might be the best player on the team, and if he is he’ll let you know that he is. It might be worth it to have this guy on your team because he’s got some skill, but just watch out because he will let you know if you mess up.

The Guy Who Needs to Give it Up

We all know him. He walks in and takes 20 minutes to stretch out and brace up. Then when he’s on the court, he will not let his teammates help him out. No matter if he’s shooting well or bad, he’s going to want to contribute in anyway, so he has something to tell his wife about when he gets home.

The ‘My Bad’ Guy

If he messes up, he’ll feel bad and immediately say ‘My Bad’. He may not be that bad of a player, but you’ll know when he feels he made a mistake.

The Zebra

This is the player who wants to call everything and act as a ref. Double dribbles, travels, backcourts, all of the works. On top of that, you can’t touch him because it’s going to be called a foul.

The ‘Dunker’

It’s the guy who will always try to dunk in game, but never comes close to making it. He loves showing off his hops pre-game, but never can show them off in game.

The Cherry Picker

Last but not least, the Cherry Picker. It is the player who never gets back on defense, and is always open up the court.

On the Court Talk

“Alright, now we start trying”

Usually said when the opposing team jumps out to a quick lead. Whoever said this will probably try to take over the game and comeback. The team who says this loses the game 90% of the time.


By far the most used quote when playing pickup basketball. “And-One” usually is said when there is a little contact when going up for a shot, but not enough contact to call a foul.

“I Haven’t Played in a While”

This can be interpreted in three ways. 1: the player is using it as an excuse for what could be future poor play. 2: BEWARE, the player could be toying with you as he wants you to take it easy on him. 3: he actually hasn’t played in a while.

“Hand Down, Man Down”

My personal favorite here. Mark Jackson uses it when commentating games. But when you hit a shot and your defender had his hands down, be sure to break this one out.

“Two for a Dollar”

Used when a player misses his first open 3 and the offense grabs the board.”Two for a dollar” is said and the player who shot it first is given another open shot.

Common Questions and Misconceptions of Pickup Basketball

Are Shooting Sleeves or Other Accessories Okay?

To me, NO! You’re not in the NBA. But if you want to show off your fancy Nike Elite shooting sleeve, go for it. Just know other players can and will throw shade at you.

When is it Okay to Call a Foul?

If it is clearly a foul, call it, no one will dispute it. But if you miss the shot and then call the foul, you better have an explanation. Sometimes the defender will call the foul, and that is best because there’s no disputing. But for the most part, it is call your own foul, but don’t abuse the power!

Best way to Score the Game?

I prefer 1’s and 2’s to 13 straight up. Which means, inside the arc is 1, and a 3 pointer is actually 2. The game ends at 13, and straight up means the first team to 13 wins. That’s what I prefer, but if you want to change it feel free, just make it known to everyone on the court before the first check in occurs.

Best way to Resolve a Disputed Call?

It will happen, no one knows who hit the ball out of bounds, or if it was a foul. There is no ref, so not all calls are 100% correct. The best way to resolve it is with ‘Ball Don’t Lie’. Which means the player who is disputing the call shoots a 3 at the top of the key and if he makes it, it’s his team’s ball, and if he misses, the other team gets the ball. Pretty simple concept.

Are Shirts and Skins Okay?

Outside? Yes, completely fine. However, if you are inside, don’t think it is okay to do so. Most gyms don’t allow it, so why even bother if you are inside?

Photo Credits to

I personally love pickup basketball, not only is a fun way to compete and stay in shape, but it unifies people from different realms of life when on the court. So next time you step on the court and lace em’ up, consider some of these questions, and be on the lookout for some of those stereotypes.

There are many more misconceptions, stereotypes, and some other unwritten rules of pickup, and it will be touched on in RAINES RADIO. You can find us on Spotify, Apple, and Anchor. Be sure to rate/review our show, we are still growing! Also feel free to respond to our twitter @RainesRadio with some listener questions that will be answered on our Pod!

Hope you all have a Great Thanksgiving, and if you play some pickup on Black Friday, Consider this Blog!

Featured Image. 10 Things You Didn’t Know about “White Men Can’t Jump”. Photo Credits to

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