Swimming Pool Basketball March Madness

by Rob Cox, March 2, 2010

Swimming Pool Basketball March Madness

water basketball set

When I was growing up, March Madness meant neighborhood pool basketball tournaments. We had an old backboard and rim that we mounted in the deep end of Tom White's pool. Nothing as nice as the NBA pool basketball game pictured at left. When Butch Zumwalt broke the rim, we replaced the backboard with a piece of plywood we found in the garage. We had to, we were mid-tournament! I still remember Tom calling out "Let the Games Continue". And continue they did, all through March, right up until we got tired of it, sometime around September.

 Pool basketball games can be a casual affair, or a highly organized sport. Setting up two pool basketball sets at each end of the pool gives a full court advantage. Fast Breaks and Full Court Press all across the pool. Many local community recreation centers offer swimming pool basketball as kind of an intra-mural sport for enthusiasts - take a look at a blog we did on the similar offering of Inner Tube Water Polo - and it seems to be catching steam. Swimming Pool basketball may seem more like water polo, in the way the ball is dribbled (in between your arms, swimming heads up), but for us - it was all basketball - in the pool!

We made up our own rules as we went along in our backyard water basketball games, because this was before the internet made everything accessible. The real rules merge with the play and strategy of water polo. Speaking of real rules, what are they? I'm not sure they exist, Google has failed me. Either that, or my editor must be standing at my door demanding this blog post. In either case, in play, swimming pool basketball has the style of water polo and the guts of basketball. Tip off to start the game,  and after a basket is made, the opposing team brings in the ball from the end of the pool opposite their goal. 

But FOULS, that we took seriously. We had a list of unwritten rules of foul play, designed to keep things fair. If old pool basketball backboard and rimyou committed a foul, the other team took a Free Throw, from the center of the pool. Also, if the ball goes out of bounds, just like in real basketball, the other team takes possession and brings it in at the point where the ball left the pool.



pool basketball

  • Pushing the ball underwater
  • Touching the ball with both hands
  • Holding or Dunking an opponent
  • Pushing Off the sides or the bottom


So, that's how we played pool basketball games, beginning in March of every year. Generally, the pool water in Central California during early March is about 65 degrees, and we couldn't wait to get in! Or, should I say, that's when our parents allowed us to get into the pool.  

What's more fun than pool basketball trick shots? We spent many late afternoons trying to perfect the perfect buzzer beater, off the diving board. Take a look at these videos - and try these at home, kids!