Lesson Plan: 3-Catch Basketball


Here’s a glimpse into what a SPARK lesson plan has to offer. We’ll look at one very popular game called 3-Catch Basketball, which is from the SPARK 3-6 PE Program. It’s a fantastic way to increase coordination and teach teamwork and strategy for elementary students.

Let’s huddle up. Here’s how to play:

What is 3-Catch Basketball?

  • The object of this game is to complete three passes in a row.
  • When a team successfully does this, they earn a point.
  • The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Set Up the Boundaries and Teams

  • Boundaries: Create square grids on the court that are 10 paces on all sides using cones or chalk. Six players will be assigned to each grid, so create as many grids as you need for your entire class. (For example, if your class has 18 students, create three grids. For 24 students, create four grids.)
  • Teams: Each grid is split into two teams; three students to a team. One team wears pinnies on top of their gym clothes; the other team wears their normal gym clothes only. The team with the pinnies is offense and begins the game with the basketball in their possession.


  • Since the team wearing pinnies is offense first, it is their mission to complete three passes in a row in the same direction.
    • If player A begins with the ball, she can pass to player B or player C. If player B gets the ball second, he must pass it to player C before passing it back to player A.
    • Players cannot switch places or hand the ball to their teammates.
  • Players can pivot, fake-pass and move to open space in order to pass and catch the ball, but they cannot dribble.
  • Once the offense completes three consecutive passes, that team scores a point and becomes the defense. The defense now takes control of the ball.
  • Defensive players must attempt to break up the passing of the offense by using their hands to intercept the ball.
  • If the ball is intercepted, dropped, or goes out of the grid, possession goes to the defense and the teams switch roles.

You’ll soon have a lot of action happening at one time, so keep the following pointers in mind.

Tips and Hints

  • Defensive players stay with the same offensive player (no ganging-up on one person), but can rotate at your discretion.
  • The defense must stay three feet away from the person with the ball.
  • Offensive players can only hold the ball for three seconds at most. If they fail to pass in time, the ball switches teams.

Does it all make sense so far? Once you’ve mastered the basics, let’s add some difficult challenges to the game plan and Spark it up!

Alternative Game Options

  • Endline. This game utilizes the same grid but the players are arranged differently. Instead of passing in a circle, the offense passes in a line. The offensive players begin on their own endline and advance the ball toward the opposing endline using passes only. When the ball is passed over the endline, a point is scored (similar to a touchdown in football). If the ball is dropped or intercepted, the defense takes over.
  • Endline with shot. This is the same as regular endline, but in the opposing end zone, an offensive player picks up a hoop while his or her teammate shoots the ball through the hoop. A missed shot means no points and the defense takes over.
  • Endline with post player. This game type gives the offense the advantage. A post player stands at the midpoint of the grid and doesn’t move. He or she can help the offense pass the ball but must stay in one place (like a post). This player is rotated after each score so everyone gets a chance to be the post player.

Regardless of the age of your students, they will find 3-Catch Basketball challenging and fast-paced. It’s a game where you can add all kinds of stipulations that increase the difficulty level as well, like restricting the offense to using only one kind of pass (a bounce pass, one-handed pass, two-handed pass, maybe even a behind-the-back pass) if your students show an exceptional aptitude for 3-Catch Basketball.

Best of all, it meets several standards set by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE):

  • Passing and catching
  • Offensive and defensive strategies
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Cooperation

Ready… set… play!

Click Here to download the complete 3-Catch Basketball lesson plan, or Click Here for more Elementary Physical Education sample lesson plans.