What’s a Pick-up game?

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Pick-up games are spontaneous games with no ranking or future effort repercussions. They can occur in various ways, including a semi-regular meeting or using the internet to schedule. The term now refers to games in various sports, and teams are identified using various methods such as electing captains or distinguishing shirts. Chess is the only sport where players sit on either side of the board.

A pick up game is a game of some kind that is not part of a regularly scheduled competition season or championship series. Instead it is a more or less spontaneous game, with teams often composed on the spot. There are no repercussions beyond the final score in terms of ranking or future effort.
There are several ways games occur. One way depends on the numbers: the minimum necessary to make the game work or the regulation number. In this method, people stick around until enough players show up and are willing to stick around for the duration of a game.

Another way pick-up games occur involves a semi-regular meeting, to which many are invited but no one undertakes to show up. This is the case, for example, with a basketball night every Monday in the gymnasium of a local school. Many more people than come on any particular Monday may be familiar with the game, but they come when their schedule allows. Whoever shows up, plays, and if that means odd numbers in the teams, players usually try to make it as fair as possible by considering talent, height, or other factors relevant to the situation.

Recently, attempts have been made to use the Internet to schedule collection games. This is a way to help people connect with other players in their area and allows fans to have full squads whenever possible. Prospective players are asked to provide their gender, game choice, age, location, and how far they are willing to travel for a game.

Basketball was the sport usually referred to when the term pick-up game was used, but the types of competitions using the designation pick-up game have expanded. It is now used to refer to randomly scheduled or show-up-and-play games in softball, volleyball, tennis, dodgeball, and even chess.

Gathering games are spontaneous and not between pre-set teams, so they use a variety of methods to pick teams and identify them. Captains can be elected to choose teams, or players can be counted with Ones playing Twos. A men-only sports match can be played as Shirts vs. No Shirts as an easy way to identify teammates and distinguish them from opponents. Shirts versus inside out shirts, white shirts versus colored shirts, and men versus women are other team definitions created with the goal of knowing who is who. In chess, it’s simple: a player sits on one side or the other of the board.

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