If there’s one thing that children love doing, it’s playing games and having fun. Now, sadly, as modern technology has advanced so much over the years, the primary way in which many children in the developed world are having fun, is online by playing indoors on computers and smart devices. Don’t get me wrong, these devices, of course, have their place in modern society, and they can provide numerous benefits for a child’s cognitive abilities and development. The problem, however, is that by playing indoors, by themselves, the children in question often become isolated and may not develop very strong social skills. Not only that, but by being stuck indoors all the time, the children also lack exercise and physical activity, meaning that their health and fitness suffer, and they become far more prone to weight gain and obesity. In an ideal world, the children in question would instead spend far more time playing outdoors with their friends. Now, we know that, for many of us, the summer is now drawing to a close, but even so, providing the weather is dry and fairly warm, there is no reason why children can’t play outdoors, have fun, and get some much-needed exercise in the process. Ball games are synonymous with fun, and if you’re looking for ways of getting your child and their friends outdoors, why not try to get them to play a few of the following outdoor ball games for kids?
Kick the “can”
Originally, this game was played with a tin can, but for the 2017 version, we’ve updated things somewhat. Rather than a tin can, instead, a regular soccer ball, or similar type of ball, is used. This game is best played in groups of at least three, though the more players the better. It is fantastic for encouraging children to get outdoors and to get plenty of exercise, and truthfully, it’s a whole lot of fun. The game is best played, either on a large field or open space of turf, or in an open outdoor area in general, though obviously if it is played on a tarmac, there is the risk of slips and scraped knees. To play this game, the ball is placed in the middle of the field/backyard etc and it is protected by a child who has been chosen to be a guard. From here, the other players all line up several yards away from the ball and guard, and when they’re ready, they will all run towards the ball. The aim of the game is for a child to kick the ball and avoid the guard. It is the guard’s duty to protect the ball and to try to tag the other players. Once a player has been tagged, they have to go and stand on the sidelines as they are out of the game. If a player avoids the guard and kicks the ball, they win that round and become the guard for the next game.
This game is also sometimes known as ‘five dollars’ but whatever the name, the rules remain the same. 500 can be played with all kinds of different balls, and the rules can also be tweaked and adjusted somewhat as well. Basically, this game is played when one player takes the role of handling the ball, while the other players take themselves out to the field. The handler of the ball will kick it into the air and out into the field, and the aim of the game is for the fielders to intercept it as quickly as possible. If a player catches the ball before it bounces, they earn 100 points. If it bounces once, they earn 75, bounce twice, it’s 50 points, and bounce three times or more and it’s 25 points. The winner of the game is the first player to reach 500 points (hence the name). This game is great because not only does it teach sports and physical education, it also helps encourage basic math skills as well. The game can also be played with various bats and balls, where obviously, instead of kicking, the handler will instead whack the ball with the bat.
Thought you needed a bowling alley and bowling balls to have a fun-filled game of bowling? Think again. In this game, one child will take the role of the bowler, while the other children will stand further down the field in standard bowling pin formations. Next, the bowler will use a large round ball that can be rolled easily and will roll it down the grass and attempt to knock over as many pins as they can. Basically, the idea is to roll the ball and hit as many other players as you can. The fewer players that are left, the harder the game becomes.
Flies and grounders
For children that love baseball, this is the perfect outdoor ball game. It may simply be a gloried version of throw and catch, but it is actually a whole heap of fun, especially when you start making it tougher and begin throwing the ball from further and further away. Best played in twos, one player will throw the ball to the other, and the other simply has to catch it. If they catch it in the air, they receive two points, otherwise, it is worth one point if it bounces. The real fun comes however, when players try to fool each other as to whether they are throwing a fly ball, or a grounder. The game must be played fairly, however meaning that, if a ball cannot be caught, the receiver will get another chance of catching another throw. Basically, play carries on until a player reaches a predetermined score, in which case they become the winner. Obviously, it’s best to catch a ball in mid-air, because that yields the highest score.
Keep the ball
As the name implies, this game is all about keeping hold of a ball. Best played in large groups, the children will split into teams and there will be a time limit set for each game. Here, a ball is boosted high into the air, and the two teams will race towards it. Once a player has the ball, they then need to help ensure that their team keeps possession of the ball. The teams can pass the ball between teammates, while the other team tries to dispossess them. You can play this game in the form of soccer, or you can go with an American football theme and play it that way. You can even adapt the rules so that, once a player is tagged, they then are eliminated, which would give the other team an advantage. The real kicker (pardon the pun) is that once a player passes you the ball, you cannot give it back to them, so you must find another teammate to pass to.
This game is played with a soft children’s ball and a playing area, usually a large playing field. Best played in groups, one child will be chosen to be “IT” and no, we don’t mean the clown. The chosen child will then close their eyes and count to ten, as the other children run away as fast as their little legs will carry them. Once 10 is reached, the children have to freeze on the spot, and they cannot move. The IT child is then allowed to take four steps, as big as they like, towards the nearest player to them, where they then try to hit them with the softball. If the child is hit with the ball, they become IT and also receive an S. If an IT child misses another player, they receive an S. Once a player has received an S, a P, a U, and a D they are out. The winner of the game is the last child standing.
Hot Potato Hide and Seek
Sticking with a potato theme we next have Hot Potato Hide and Seek. This game puts a slight, ball-themed twist on the children’s classic. Here, the child that takes on the role of a seeker, will hold a ball and will attempt to track the hiders down before a predetermined time limit expires. Once they find a player, the player they find takes the ball and becomes the seeker. The loser of the game is the child that is left holding the ball when the time limit has expired. Here, a new round will begin, and the loser of the last round keeps possession of the ball and becomes the seeker for round 2.
Hit the bat
A simple, yet extremely fun game, hit the bat is great fun. Basically, one child takes the bat, while the others run out and field. The batter will then throw the ball into the air and whack it with the bat. Then, they place the bat down on the ground in front of themselves, crossways. The fielder of the ball runs towards the batter until they have placed the bat down on the floor. The fielder will then take the ball and roll it towards the bat, hopefully hitting it in the process. If the bat is hit, it is picked up. If however, the batter fails to catch the ball, the fielder then gets a turn at batting.
Dodgeball is another game that is best played in teams and is a whole lot of fun. A group of players will split into two teams, with one softball being used. From here, a ball is placed in the centre of the playing field, a predetermined distance away from both teams. When a whistle is blown, both teams will run towards the ball, with the first player to grab the ball, winning possession of the ball for their team. From here, teams will take it in turns to throw the ball at the opposing team. If a child is hit with the ball, they are eliminated. If however, a member of the opposing team catches the ball, the player that threw the ball is eliminated. The game continues until all members of one of the two teams have been eliminated.
This is a game played between three children, and is great, especially if the kids in question enjoy basketball. Basically, two players will stand a certain distance apart from one another, with the third player standing directly in the middle. The two players will then throw the ball to each other, while the third player in the middle tries to intercept the ball. If they do intercept the ball, they will switch places with the person whom threw the ball that they caught. If the middle player is quite a deal shorter than the other players, you can change the rules so that the ball has to bounce at least once.
This game is based loosely on dodgeball and is ideal for children who are especially brave. It also MUST be played with a softball, otherwise, there will be tears. Basically, one player is chosen to be IT, and they take possession of the ball. The other players line up and fold their arms. The IT player can then either throw the ball at the others, or they can fake a throw in an effort to get them to flinch. The players in a line must not unfold their arms or move when the IT player fakes a throw, and when they do throw the ball, they must try to catch it. If they fail to catch the ball, or if they flinch, they earn an F. Once a child has earned an F-L-I-N-C-and an H, they are eliminated. The last player standing is the winner.
Say and catch
Finally, we have to say and catch. This game is great because it works on a child’s reaction times, as well as helps boost cognitive thinking. Before play begins, a category is chosen, colours for example. From here, players stand in a circle and will toss the ball to one another. As we’ve gone with colours for the category, the idea is for players to say the name of a colour before they catch the ball. If they fail to come up with an answer, or if they drop the ball, or if they name a colour that has already been said, they are out. The last player standing is the winner. This may sound easy, but the longer the game goes on, the harder it becomes to come up with an answer.