Create your own March Madness with a Financial Free Throw activity

Combining fitness, finances and free throws makes this a game worth playing.

Basketball is a favorite sport to many. With warmer weather just around the corner and the 2020 NCAA March Madness cancellation, this is a perfect time to have some fun while infusing financial lessons into this fast-paced sport. Using basketball to connect with young people to teach about finances can be a great springboard to learning. Here’s how.

Game overview

In a game I call Financial Free Throw, teams compete by answering financial questions to earn a chance at scoring extra points and shooting hoops. This game can be played indoors or out. All you need is an open space, basketball, basketball goal (basketball hoop) and financial questions.


Depending on the player’s level of knowledge, instruct students on basic financial concepts before game play begins. Michigan State University Extension provides numerous financial instructional resources through 4-H youth development and family programming. Comic books can also be used to provide a fun financial resource they could be read prior to playing. There are a number of comic books you could use with this game.

  • “Avengers: Saving the Day” from Practical Money Skills is an action-packed comic book that teaches youth about budgeting and saving using popular Marvel superheroes and characters.
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy,” also from Practical Money Skills, is an engaging comic book that teaches kids about wants and needs and the power of saving.
  • “Once upon a Dime” from Federal Reserve Bank of New York  is an educational comic book that focuses on the concepts of barter, currency and banking.


Create financial questions from the financial instruction, comic book or resource given. Put the questions on index cards or other pieces of paper and place in a basket, bucket or other similar container. For already created questions, check out the financial flash cards from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

If you are playing somewhere other than a basketball court, you can still play the game with some easy adaptations. You will need masking tape to simulate the free throw line or the designated shooting spot. The shooting area can be a stationary spot or it can move around throughout the game similarly to the basketball games “Around the World” or “Horse.”

If a hoop is too difficult to hang, consider using an empty trash can or similar object to serve as the target. Also, if playing indoors, a real basketball might need to be exchanged for something softer, like a nerf ball.

The play

Separate the youth into teams of two or more players each. If there are youth of different ages, make sure to mix up the age groups into the various teams. Each team must decide the order for the players. This can be done by alphabetical order or age if players are of different ages.

To start the game, a financial question is pulled from the container and read aloud to the first round of participants. The participants can use the resource or comic book if provided and their teammates for help in answering the question. The first person who gets the answer right scores 1 point for their team and gets a chance to shoot a basket for a bonus point. Team members must rotate answering the questions in the order they decided earlier. Play rounds continue until a team reaches a designated amount of points or for a designated amount of time.

Using sports as a vehicle to help teach young people about personal finance while getting fit is a win- win for all who play.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth career preparation, money management and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2016 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment.”

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