Basketball Scrimmage: What Is It and How Can You Improve It?

In general, a scrimmage is a fight between two parties to determine which one is more powerful than the other.

But in sports like basketball, a scrimmage refers to a practice game where the players are split into opposing teams of five to uncover their strengths and shortcomings.

It is a sort of practice session that allows the team members to learn about their techniques. In addition, it enhances unity among the players and enables them to help one another with their weaknesses.


This article will tell you all about how to practice basketball with your team efficiently and strategize for the game using the significant strengths of your team members, usually known as basketball scrimmage.

Stick around till the end to find out how to improve basketball scrimmages for your team with effective results.

So, let’s dig in and get to know the basketball scrimmage, its purpose, time period, and ways to get better at it.

What Is The Purpose Of A Basketball Scrimmage?

Playing basketball isn’t as easy as watching it on TV. It requires skills, reflexes, a high basketball IQ, and, last but not least, rigorous practice. Like most sports, training is essential to get better at playing basketball.

Moreover, since this game is all about teamwork, your solo skills are insufficient to get you through the league.

Scrimmages are not essential in solo sports like swimming, badminton, or tennis.

However, in multiplayer sports like basketball, football, and soccer, scrimmages are required to analyze and improve the players’ performance before the actual tournament.

There are a few reasons why the NBA, FIBA, high schools, and colleges conduct scrimmages before their finals.

Other than shortlisting players or participants from the volunteers, there are several different purposes for basketball scrimmages.

We are going to list all the reasons below:

Weak Points of Players

Scrimmages are held to identify the weak points of the players and help them improve.

It also serves to help discover the strengths of good players and strategize the game accordingly.

Attack & Defense

Scrimmages are helpful for team players to learn about each other’s ways of playing, be it attack or defense. It proves to be a plus point on the court when they are familiar with each other’s playing style.

As a result, every team member tries to make up for the weak points of others.


Scrimmages develop a sense of teamwork and coordination among the players, as it makes them comfortable with each other and gives them exposure to play to each other’s strengths.

In addition, the players can connect during the scrimmage, as they understand the strategies of their team members.

Time Management

Timing is everything in basketball, and scrimmaging teaches the players the best moves to play at the right time.

For example, they learn when to use their defense mechanism and when to apply the offense mechanism during the game. On top of that, it allows them to be more mindful of managing their time based on the game circumstances.

Improving Skills

Lastly, scrimmaging allows the team members to practice in the form of a group rather than solo. It is much better as it improves several intuitive skills, and players can learn a lot from their team members.

Aside from that, it allows them to discuss different game plans and tactics.

How Long Is A Basketball Scrimmage?

Since a basketball scrimmage is an official practice or preparation for the final combat, it should be kept as close and realistic to the timing of the actual match as possible.

Therefore, it must be based on the official game format, rules, and time frame.

However, different coaches have their own training tactics, and some believe in short but intense sessions.

While a few basketball scrimmages have a shorter duration, most of those in high schools and colleges are two hours long, with a 15-minute break.

On the other hand, NBA scrimmages have 48 minutes, including the 12 minute quarters and 15 minutes of halftime.

Ways To Improve Basketball Scrimmage

Basketball scrimmages play a considerable role in the development of players as a team.

However, they must be conducted by the coach realistically to achieve excellent results in the actual match. If not done with proper strategy, they will be of no use.

Below are some methods for acing a basketball scrimmage:

1. Keep Scoring

Despite the fact that basketball scrimmages are practice sessions, they shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. Remember, if the coach takes a scrimmage lightly, so do the players.


The best way to keep the players focused and attentive during the game is by keeping score, just like in regular basketball matches.

This way, the players won’t feel the need to divert their attention to anything else.

2. Post Scrimmage Lessons

Like regular practice, the scrimmage is of no use if the players don’t get the opportunity to learn from it. Therefore, after the scrimmage, the coach should gather the team and provide them with a match report.

The report should consist of the weak points, strengths, and blunders of the team members. This way, they can be precise about the skills that need more practice and improvement.

3. Race Against Time

Motivate the players to score goals in under 5-second fractions. It will improve their skills to score goals in seconds.

However, this scrimmage strategy is an ignored and disliked feature by the players.

scrimmage basketball

To implement it, you can give them a bonus time of a few seconds or slightly ‘bend’ the rules by allowing them bonus points.

4. No More Dribbling

The best basketball scrimmages are ones that put a limit on the allowed number of dribbles for their players. The reason for this is that dribbling considerably reduces the time for offense and defense.

When the players are not allowed to dribble the ball, they get to work on their passing and dodging skills instead, which hold more importance in professional games.

5. Continuity

Even when a coach is supervising a scrimmage, fouls and flops are bound to happen. The best way to teach the players is by waiting for the game to end.

Because if you interrupt the game in the middle, the players might lose their interest, and the spirit of the game can be lost. Once the game has ended, you can include these instructions in the post-scrimmage lessons.

6. Set Individual Roles

Before the scrimmage begins, pre-plan the game by allocating roles to the players. It will help bring a flow to the game as the players will have their set positions and know what role to play.

Post Scrimmage Lessons

For example, if you assign a player to be the goal-scorer, he will not go on defense, and the other players will remain connected to keep him safe while he comes up with a plan.

This way, they can also hone the skills that are their primary strength.

7. Short Games

Players are more likely to perform well in short bursts than long, exhausting sessions. This shows that keeping an hour-long session is pointless.

If you want the players to perform at their best, establish few-minute breaks between the sessions.

As a result, the players will not become fatigued and will have basketball scrimmages with vigor and enthusiasm.

8. Bonus for the Players

You should decide on a few perks for your players if you want them to give their best during scrimmages.

For example, you can award an extra point to the team that gets the ball across the foul line in under four seconds.

As a result, the players are encouraged to perform better to help their team score an extra point. These modest rewards go a long way toward enhancing the teams' overall confidence.

9. Record the Scrimmage

Recording the scrimmage is another approach to improving a team's overall performance. When you film the entire session, you can go back and point out each player's strong and weak points.

Even if you are a good observer, you may overlook a few blunders with your naked eye.

However, you can closely examine each move and technique of your members as many times as you like, thanks to the match's recorded data.

Conclusion: Basketball Scrimmage

Hopefully, now you know how essential a scrimmage is for both the players and the team as a whole. Basketball scrimmages are a great way to improve your game-winning skills.

The tactics mentioned above can be beneficial for a fair trial or regular training routine. It is far better than solo practice sessions and should be conducted more often, not just before the finals.

During scrimmages, the players get to know their team members closely and develop a bond. It is sure to take your squad to the next level of basketball if done and implemented correctly.

All you have to do now is focus on the theory, and you'll have a future NBA champion on your hands. After all, you never know what life will throw at you.

Joshua Bast

My name is Joshua Bast and I have been playing basketball ever since I was 7 years old. I love the game play, I love the feeling whenever I score a basket, but what made me fell in love was the camaraderie with my team mates. This blog is dedicated to help any up-and-coming basketball players maximize their potential.

Joshua Bast