Variations of basketball are games or activities based on the game of basketball, in which the player uses common basketball skills and equipments (mainly the ball and the basket). Some are substantially variations due to mere changes in rules, while others are more distinct games and possibly with varying degrees of basketball influences.

A few variations include: Water basketball, Wheelchair basketball, Slam ball, Beach basketball, and Street ball and Unicycle basketball. These are principal basketball sports with variations on use of basketball. A former version of basketball was Six-on-Six basketball played until late 1950s.

Six-on-six basketball or Basquette is a largely outdated variation of women's basketball. It was played with the same rules as regular basketball being played now, but with the exceptions:

  1. Teams had six players each instead of five- three forwards and three guards.
  2. Only forwards are allowed to shoot the ball and they must stay in their frontcourt (the side of the court they shoot from) and guards must stay in their backcourt. Thus this makes forwards play only offense and guards play only defense.

Netball is a ball sport and a limited-contact team sport in which two teams of seven players trying to score points just like that in basketball, and thus netball is a form of basketball only. Netball was previously called "women's basketball" but now it includes men's teams as well.

The game’s development began in England in the 1890s and by 1960, the rules for international games and matches had been laid and standardised for the game.

Netball games last for 60 minutes (1 hour). Netball is most popular in Commonwealth nations, particularly in schools, and is largely played by women. In 1995, netball became an International Olympic Committee recognised sport; however it has yet not been played at the Olympics.

Water basketball is a water sport, which combines the rules of basketball and water polo, played in a swimming pool. Like basketball, teams consist of five players each who must shoot at the goal/basket with a ball within a definite time after gaining possession of the ball. In 2005, water basketball was recognised as a form of basketball by the Italian Federation of Basketball.

Wheelchair basketball is another form of basketball played by people who are physically impaired and are in wheelchairs. It is considered one of the major disabled sports practiced worldwide. The sport is governed by The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF). It is estimated that more than 100,000 people play wheelchair basketball as a recreation activity, as club play and as elite national team members.

Wheelchair basketball was included in the Rome 1960 Paralympic Games and The Wheelchair Basketball World Championship is held two years after every Paralympic Games. Major teams in wheelchair basketball are from Australia, Canada, the United States, the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Japan.

Horse ball is a game played on horseback where a ball is handled and points are scored by shooting it through a basket (hoop) of diameter about 1 m. The sport resembles a combination of polo, rugby, and basketball. It is one of the ten disciplines officially recognized by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports.

Slam Ball is a form of basketball which is played with four trampolines each in front of each net and boards around the court edge and like basketball – a ball is supposed to be shot in the basket to score points. Slamball, LLC is the organisation that organises tournaments, matches, games of slamball and the name is their trademark. SlamBall held its first major international tournament in 2012 in China.

Slamball was found as a form of team sport which originated from various elements of basketball, hockey, football and gymnastics where in basketball is the main sport from where slamball is derived.

Each team is supposed to have four players on the court at a time. There are three positions:

  • Handler: This is the primary ball handler on the team. It is his job to run the offense
  • Gunner: The primary scorer on the team – he/she is responsible to take the shot and score a point. 
  • Stopper: This position is for the primary defensive player. He/she is similar to goal keeper in football and hockey.

The general formations of team for Slamball are: 1 stopper, 2 handlers, and 1 gunner OR 1 stopper, 1 handler, and 2 gunners.

Streetball also called as street basketball is another variation of basketball which is typically played on outdoor courts with a significantly less formal structure and enforcement of the game's rules. The format is more of a casual one and is more favourable to allowing players to perform publicly and showcase their skills.  


The most common variation of basketball is the half-court game which is yet again played in informal settings without any referees or any as such strict rules. In this setting, only one basket is used out of the 2, and the ball must be cleared i.e. passed or dribbled out of the three-point line each time possession of the ball changes from one team to the other. Half-court games require less cardiovascular stamina, since do not have to run back and forth the full length of the court. Half-court can be played if there is an insufficient number of a player to form full 5-on-5 teams and thus usually played 1-on-1, 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. The first of the official tournaments were held at the Asian Youth Games of 2009 and the 2010 Youth Olympics, both held in Singapore. There are very high chances for the sport to become an Olympic sport as early as 2016.