The March Madness has begun with conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament starts next week! If you’re hosting a “Battle of the Brackets” club, below are some ideas to get you ballin’.
Encourage everyone to wear gear from their favorite college team, and if they don’t have a college team they love, just wear any sports gear. Give a prize to whoever looks the “sportiest.” Lunch with a leader is always a winner!
GAMES & MIXERS
Play knockout with a nerf hoop. If you have a big club, borrow a couple hoops. You can go with the stand-alone kind or the one that hangs on a door. Ask folks on your YL committee who are parents of young children if you can borrow some goals for the night, or ask at your church!
Dunk Contest/3 pt Competition
Again, use a nerf hoop. Have “celebrity judges” who are dressed in skit clothes and use accents. This is a great way to get teachers or school administration involved! Have the judges award for creativity, style, and level of difficulty. Make scorecards for the judges.
Pre-select your participants. Have them wear costumes: basketball jerseys, headbands, wristbands, tall socks, etc… You can also help them think through creative ideas using props, other people, and theme music.
You could also do a 3-point competition with a similar style.
Free Throw Competition with
THE CURTAIN OF DISTRACTION
Arizona St. University has a hilarious tradition called “The Curtain of Distraction.” They have a curtain in the front of their student section and when the opposing team is shooting free throws, they open the curtain and someone in a crazy costume pops out. This has “Young Life club” written all over it.
You can watch an ESPN video about it here. It wouldn’t be hard to recreate a similar curtain at club and pick 4 contestants to each shoot 5 free throws and have different folks come out to distract them. If you pull this off, email us a pic or video and we’ll feature it on social media and add it to this post.
Put the #’s 1-64 in a hat/bowl/bag. 64 kids will draw and then represent the corresponding team to that number (as the teams are seeded in the NCAA tourney). As the tourney unfolds, whoever is paired with the winning team wins $ off of summer camp. If you have 32 kids at club, get each person to draw twice, having a better chance to win.
Cookie Sheet Ping Pong
Set up a cookie sheet as a mini-basketball court. Place a ping-pong ball on it, and one person on each end. The object is to blow the ball to the other side first. Have them play one round, and then raise the stakes, doing the next round blindfolded. After they are blindfolded, place the ball on a mound of flour in the middle of the cookie sheet. (via YLPlaybook.com: Ping Pong Ball Fight Game)
Name That Mascot
Download this screen game below (made by Amy Brooks!) and have kids “buzz in” when the image appears if they know the name of the school it represents along with the school’s mascot.
They have 50 million followers on YouTube and are fans of Young Life. Especially if you’re planning a WyldLife club, you could show some highlights of their trick shots or, better yet, film your own. This could be a fun contact work idea to make a trick-shot video to show at club.
I bought two white circular laundry baskets from Walmart and cut the bottoms out of them. These were our hoops. We used zip ties to secure them on either end of the club room. We have high ceilings in our club room so we put them really high up. I also cut pool noodles lengthwise and attached them over the rim of the laundry baskets to make a cool looking basketball rim. Idea submitted by Will Orr.
How to Play
- Divide the club into two teams.
- Just like ultimate frisbee, you cannot run with the ball; you can pass to your teammates up and down the court with the intention of trying to score just like in basketball.
- No goaltending.
- Here is where the fun comes in. After every basket scored, switch out the basketball you’re using for another one that is slightly crazier, and do a tip off with that new ball. The tip off is key. Great photo ops and amazing for slo-mo videos.
- The first ball you might use could be one of those big lightweight rubber balls you buy in the big ball bin at Walmart.
- The second ball can be a squishy/spiky/weird ball, but then get creative with it. Our third ball was a ball covered in shaving cream. The slo-mo tip off video of that one is always epic. Our fourth ball was a head of lettuce. And last but not least we finished with a rotisserie chicken (this year we did a whole raw chicken which held together better but could possibly give kids salmonella). It’s always high intensity and because it’s ultimate frisbee rules, the whole team tends to get involved via passing.
- Get a leader in an afro and a referee outfit to be the referee who officiates and throws the tip off ball every time. Play the “Y’all Ready For This” song during game play.
- Use the Sports Center theme song as background music for a game.
- At the end of club play “One Shining Moment” as kids are leaving.
- For your 30-second dance party, do The John Wall.
- For background music for games use “Basketball” by Lil Bow Wow.
Basketball Watch Party
Go ahead and plan now to watch some of the games with your middle, high school, or college friends. Look into local restaurants with TVs and see if you can reserve a room foryour Campaigners group to watch the Elite 8 or Final Four rounds.
Have other ideas to share? Email us here!
Written by Drew Hill.
Drew is a pastor in Greensboro, NC and also on part-time staff with Young Life. Read more from Drew in his contact-work guide book for Young Life leaders: “Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel.”
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