Shoot the Bacon!

Delight your young athletes by leading this fun twist on a classic blacktop PE game.

By Greg Harrison

girl holding a basketball

This is the fourth in my series of articles on PE games. Previously, I've described the Frisbee game, British bulldogs, and my version of kickball. If you regularly take your kids out for a game during PE, I would bet that you've played steal the bacon. You know, that's the game where you line up half of the class on one side of the blacktop, and half of the class facing them on the other side of the blacktop. You put an eraser in the center right between the two lines, and two kids compete to pick up the eraser. They try to avoid being tagged before crossing a "safe" line. It's a fun game, but I always felt that it left a little to be desired. So, I came up with a twist on the game that incorporates dribbling and shooting basketballs. I call it, shoot the bacon!

How To Play

The basic premise of the game is the same. Two teams, who are organized by counting off in numbers, are awarded a point for winning a round. The team with the most points, after everyone has gone once, is the winner. In my version of the game, points are given based on which person is the first to score two baskets with the basketball. Depending on the age of your kids, you could make it the first person to three baskets, or the first person to hit two shots from outside of the paint. But for now, we'll say the first person to make two baskets, from any distance, wins the round.

Before leaving the classroom, spend a few minutes making up the two teams. I always strive to have an equal number of boys and girls per team. I also try to balance the talented athletes and the not-so-talented athletes. Then, the fun begins. Let's say you have 22 participants. Make up your teams, and assign each pupil a number: 1 through 11 for each team. When the kids go out to the blacktop, the teams line up facing each other in the order you gave them, 1 - 11 going left to right. Place two equally inflated basketballs in the middle of a Hula-Hoop (it keeps them from rolling away), which is positioned right in the middle of the two teams. When you call out a number (lets' say it's five), the two players who were assigned number five from each team are the ones who race out, grab a basketball each, and begin shooting for dear life! They both shoot at the same basket. If you are tricky, you can "match up" youngsters of similar athletic ability in this game by giving them the same number- which is an unusually nice feature for a PE game. It's really cool to see two top athletes really go for it when you call their number, and it's heart-warming to see kids who don't usually play basketball beam with pride when they win a round.

Set Some Rules

As with any good game, there are just a few rules that must be followed. Here are my shoot the bacon! rules:

  • Players for both teams must stand behind the white lines (the sidelines of a basketball court are perfect), and not cross until their number is called. No "cheating forward."
  • Players may not interfere with the other player's basketball, or with a player when he/she is shooting.
This game is all about offense, not defense. If someone kicks the other person's ball away, or tries to block an opponent's shot with a ball or his hand, he automatically loses the round. I tell my kids to simply focus only on their own basketball and working to score baskets. If a ball takes a funny bounce and goes rolling away, players really have to hustle after it and get back to shooting as soon as possible.
  • If you have an odd number of students that day, then assign one person on the team with fewer players two numbers. He or she will go twice during each game.
  • The first person to get (you choose the number, or style of shot) basketballs through the basket wins. As the teacher/referee, you'll have to play close attention, because sometimes both winning balls go through the basket almost simultaneously. It's up to you to determine whose is whose!
  • Discussions on sportsmanship are important prior to playing a game like this. When a student comes back to the line after losing a round, set up the expectation that they are met with support and not blame.

Positive Aspects of Shoot the Bacon!

I like the camaraderie that is fostered from playing this game. Everyone is out there playing for his team, and one's teammates are all pulling for him, yelling and cheering. I also like the fact that I can "tailor-make" the matchups to keep the game fair. I also appreciate the variations to the game that I can employ depending on what grade level I am working with that day. For example, I have an adjustable basket that I can lower, making it possible for even first graders to play this game. For older kids, I can require more difficult shots to be made on the regulation-height basket. Ultimately though, the thing I like the most about shoot the bacon! is that the kids always really enjoy playing it.

Other Basketball-Related Games:

Basketball Dribbling Activities

Designed for middle schoolers, these basketball dribbling activities will get your athletes moving! They will also help to increase everyone's skill level in one of the most important aspects of the game of basketball - dribbling the ball. There are many games presented here, and these activities should be fun skill-builders for your charges.

Basketball Shooting Lesson Plan

Learning how to properly shoot the basketball is a skill that should be taught. Here is a clever lesson that describes three activities that should lead to increased shooting facility for everyone. The techniques behind the basic shot become the acronym - BEEF. It stands for Balance, Elbow (under the ball), Eyes (on your target), and Follow Through. A terrific basketball skills lesson!

Zone Defense in Basketball

Of course, basketball isn't all about offense - there's defense that needs to be played as well. This resource teaches high schoolers how to properly play a zone defense. The activity uses five Hula-Hoops. Each defender must stand inside of his/her Hula-Hoop placed on the court in order to defend his territory. A very simple, but clever way to teach the zone defense.