People love playing pick-up basketball for multiple reasons: to exercise, meet new people and engage in friendly competition. The key to having the best pick-up basketball experience is finding the environment that perfectly fits your competitive nature. On some courts, the environment is set, while on other courts, players can set the environment themselves. There are numerous courts around Palo Alto that each offer a unique experience.
Gunn-Terman pick up games (780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306)
For the last few years, Henry M. Gunn High School students have been organizing pick-up games at Gunn High School and Terman Middle School. There is a Facebook group led by Gunn senior Patrick Skelly. Most of the players are current Gunn and Palo Alto High School students or recent alumni. The environment is highly competitive. The Gunn gymnasium was recently renovated, making its sleek surface great to play on. However, the Skelly family decides when to schedule the games, so this option is not always accessible. But when these games do happen, they are easily the best pick-up experience in Palo Alto.
Rating: 5 stars
The Jewish Community Center (JCC) (3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303)
The JCC is a solid place to play a pickup game: the court is new and is primarily used for basketball. However, it is important to note that on occasion there are fitness classes. Additionally, the Kehillah High School basketball team uses it for its practices. The downside to the JCC is that players need to be a member or be accompanied by one in order to gain access to this gym. If someone is not a member, they must pay a small fee, even if they are with a member. The JCC has one of the most accessible courts in Palo Alto, and if you are a member or willing to pay a small fee, you can count on having a very enjoyable pick-up game.
Rating: 4 stars
Scott Park (Scott Street at Channing Avenue, 94301)
Scott Park is truly a hidden gem that makes for a unique pick-up basketball environment. The basketball courts have a concrete surface with painted lines and a basket. Because not too many people know about Scott Park, it is almost always an option when it comes to availability. However, a downside to its availability is that one needs to always bring a group of friends to play basketball with. Joining a game already in progress is an unlikely option. Scott Park is a great place to play a variety of basketball games such as “knockout” and “21.” With few people around, there are little distractions, which makes for a competitive pick-up environment.
Rating: 4 stars
Ross Road YMCA (3412 Ross Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303)
The Ross Road YMCA gym can be used for playful pick-up games during its open gym and teen basketball hours. More competitive basketball games can be found during its adult gym hours during which participants vary from teenagers to adults trying to get in some exercise. Although adult basketball is technically for only people 18 years or older, adults usually don’t care as long as teenagers who choose to play do so seriously. The YMCA also has a very good hardwood floor, so those worried about slipping won’t have to be concerned. It is important to check the gym schedule before going because the gym is often used for other athletic activities.
Rating: 3 stars