How Many Calories Does Basketball Burn?

How Many Calories Does Basketball Burn?

        Basketball is an intense sport that people of all ages can enjoy. The frequent running and change of pace and direction contribute to the sports’ calorie-burning efficiency. Additionally, playing basketball helps improve your overall fitness level. Age, weight, and body fat percentage are factors that influence total calorie burn. Most individuals can expect to burn between 575 and 925 calories per hour of basketball.

        Playing basketball is one of the best ways to burn fat. It is a gratifying sport that allows you to easily make friends and connections. Moreover, both shooting hoops and playing pickup offer several health benefits. Some of these benefits include better overall health, increased balance, and improved coordination. Furthermore, basketball has been proven to improve mental health and reduce stress.

The Calorie Burning Process

        The human body’s process of burning calories is fairly complex. First, the brain sends a signal to fat cells to release fatty acid molecules into the bloodstream. These fatty acid molecules are then absorbed and broken down by the heart, lungs, and muscles. Finally, the energy stored in those connections is harnessed to fuel bodily functions. Basketball is a high-intensity sport that utilizes many muscle groups and elevates heart rate and metabolic rate.

        Playing basketball burns calories very efficiently. The intensity level and duration primarily determine the amount of calories burned. Age, body weight, and fitness level also impact the rate at which calories are burned. Other factors that affect calorie-burning efficiency are workout type and metabolic rate. Moreover, location and temperature also play a part in the equation.

Calories Burned Playing Basketball

        While playing basketball, the majority of calories are burned through running and jumping. Other high-intensity movements such as change of direction and explosive bursts contribute to greater energy consumption. Even shooting around by yourself will burn calories very quickly. Any form of shooting or pickup game requires dynamic movements and engages multiple muscle groups. Ultimately, basketball burns calories more efficiently than the majority of exercise types, sports, or activities.

        The number of calories burned during a basketball game is influenced by the number of dribbles and shots taken. Moreover, the amount of running involved plays a major part as well. Skill level is also a factor impacting the total calorie expenditure during games. Highly skilled players tend to be far more precise and efficient with their movements. Typically, an inexperienced basketball player will burn slightly more calories than an experienced one.

Calories Burned Playing Basketball vs. Other Physical Activities

        Basketball is among the most effective workout choices when it comes to burning fat. There are both aerobic and anaerobic elements to the sport. The constant motion and change of direction engage several muscle groups. Continuous running and jumping help build endurance and promote cardiovascular health. In addition, basketball is one of the most enjoyable team sports to play.

Individual Sports

        We used studies from the Mayo Clinic to compare the amount of calories burned playing individual sports to basketball. Mayo Clinic states that a 160 lb male playing golf while carrying their clubs for one hour will burn 314 calories. In addition, the same 160-pound male would burn roughly the same amount of calories skiing downhill or walking at 3.5 mph. Low-impact aerobics would burn 365 calories per hour, while water aerobics would burn 402. Most individual sports don’t even come close to the calorie-burning efficiency of basketball.

Team Sports

        Few team sports offer the same level of calorie expenditure as basketball. American football and soccer are the only two that have similar calorie-burning efficiency. American football is the only sport that matches basketball regarding fast-twitch and explosive movements. Soccer can require more running than basketball, depending on the position. However, basketball involves far more sprinting and explosive movements than soccer. Basketball is undoubtedly one of the best sports for burning fat.

Factors that Impact How Many Calories Basketball Burns

        Several factors influence the number of calories burned while playing basketball. Some important factors include body weight, intensity level, and workout duration. The heavier you are, the more energy your body needs to move around. Ultimately, this results in a greater amount of calories burned. Moreover, intensity level and duration directly impact the number of calories burned during exercise. More energy and effort during a workout leads to higher calorie expenditure. Additionally, more calories will be burned as the duration of exercise increases.

Maximizing the Calories Burned Playing Basketball

        There are several ways that you can maximize the amount of calories burned while playing basketball. First, you should run as much as you can. During games, make sure to never give up on any play. If you are shooting or doing drills, quickly chase after the rebounds and avoid walking. Setting a good pace early on when training is crucial. Quickly getting your heart rate up will set a good tone for the rest of your workout.

Experiment – How Many Calories Does Basketball Burn?

        Personally, I have been cutting weight for ten months. Since January, I have lost fifty-one pounds (221 lbs. to 170). The majority of my fat loss came from playing basketball. Having an Apple Watch makes it easy to track calories. Below, I listed the stats from some recent workouts. I was between 170 and 171 pounds during the recorded sessions.

#LocationIntensity LevelTime(Minutes)Calories BurnedType of Workout
1Indoor GymLow43618Shootaround
2Indoor GymMedium/High50909Half-court 3v3 games
3Indoor GymMedium1111415Full-court pickup games
4Outdoor ParkHigh34682Shootaround
5Outdoor ParkLow62820Full-court pickup games
Five Basketball-Focused Workouts

Workout #1

        The first workout was a low-intensity shootaround at an indoor gym. I had the whole court to myself that day. The entire time, I took long jump shots and jogged after the rebounds. After taking a three-pointer, I rebounded the ball and dribbled to the other end to shoot another jumper. I repeated this process for forty-three minutes. I jogged fairly slowly during this workout due to leg soreness.

Workout #2

        The second session included half-court 3-on-3 games at the same gym. The games moved quickly and were highly competitive. Moreover, the intensity level fluctuated over the course of five games.

Workout #3

        Full-court pickup games at the local indoor gym took place for Session #3. The competition was good and the games were intense. In eighty-nine minutes, I played a total of seven games. The workout was less efficient due to long breaks between games.

Workout #4

        I did the fourth workout at an outdoor park. On this day, I was busy and decided on a short high-intensity workout. I got up shots by myself and tried to sprint after all of the rebounds. This session was constant without breaks.

Workout #5

        Outdoor full-court games were played again during the fifth session. The games were slow-paced, but the competition was good. There weren’t many fastbreak opportunities for either team. Both teams slowed the ball down on offense.


        The results were somewhat as expected. However, I was surprised at the efficiency rate of shooting around by myself. Even getting up shots by myself burned calories at a much higher rate than running alone. Most would correctly predict that full-court games are the best way to burn calories. However, intensity level is crucial when determining calorie-burning efficiency.

        For comparison, Mayo Clinic states that a 160-pound male will burn 262 calories in one hour of bicycling. Moreover, hiking for an hour will burn 438 calories. Swimming laps for one hour will burn 423 calories. Running is the closest activity to basketball in terms of caloric output. Based on Mayo Clinic’s study, running at a 5 mph pace burns roughly 606 calories per hour for a 160-pound male. Clearly, the calorie-burning efficiency of basketball is unique.

Utilizing Basketball To Reach Your Fitness Goals

        The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get adequate weekly aerobic exercise. 75 minutes of vigorous or 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week is adequate. A form of moderate aerobic activity is shooting the basketball around by yourself. With a greater intensity level, shooting by yourself can also be considered vigorous aerobic activity. Moreover, half-court and full-court pickup games are almost always considered vigorous aerobic activity.

        Those trying to lose weight or improve their health should give basketball a chance. Unless you are in a remote area, there should be local leagues nearby. Another option is to join a gym where you can play pickup basketball games. Playing pickup games at local gyms also allows you to easily make connections. Additionally, most will find playing basketball more enjoyable than any other form of cardio.

        Make sure to check out our basketball prospects page for the latest updates on top players from across the country.


How Many Calories Does Basketball Burn?

Most individuals can expect to burn between 575 to 925 calories hourly while playing basketball.


Mayo Clinic Staff. “Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Dec. 2021,

NextBallers Staff. “Calories Burned Playing Basketball.” NextBallers, How Many Calories Does Basketball Burn, 11 Nov. 2023.

Loading comments...
Scroll to top