When the nice weather arrives, it usually means loads more time outside. And while outdoor sports and organized activities are fun, it’s also nice to find some things to do that are light on expensive equipment. We’ve always had great success with investing in a simple volleyball, soccer ball, or basketball, slightly under-inflated, for a variety of games with simple rules that can be played most places outdoors. Here are just a few ideas:
1. Oven mitt volleyball
Keep it simple with this variation and play a basic game of volleyball—with everyone wearing oven mitts. It makes for less extreme serves and spikes and leads to lots of laughter as well. Added bonus: beginner volleyball players are protected from sore hands and forearms as they learn to bump.
2. 500 (or Jackpot)
Remember this one? All you need is a bit of open space—even a quiet sidewalk or an open, indoor space without furniture or breakable objects will do. One player starts as the thrower, with the rest of the group gathered throwing distance away. The thrower launches the ball toward the group, calling out a random point value as they do (e.g. 100 or 200). The player who catches the ball receives the specified point value. The first person to reach 500 (or sometimes 1,000) points takes a turn as thrower. This one can also be played in the pool on those extra hot days. Find a little more about the game here.
3. Inner tube/floatie water polo
The object of this version of the game? Get the ball into the net at each end of the pool. No nets? Shift to trying to knock down propped-up flutter boards or three water bottles. Outfit everyone with an inner tube, pool noodle, or other floating device (must stay in or on float/tube at all times) and go for it! Life jackets for anyone not confident in the water are a must. Lots of splashes, frenzied kicking, and teamwork make this one a blast.
4. Beach soccer
A little explanation needed… use water bottles, beach bags, and even sunscreen as goal markers, go easy on the rules and boundaries, and let everyone play some soccer in the sand. Keep the “field” relatively small to avoid taking up the whole beach and for a game with a high score and fun factor.
5. Ultimate basketball
Play the game of ultimate Frisbee, but with no Frisbee, just the volleyball! It will emphasize good passing, as long bombs aren’t effective, and it’s one of the best sports around for cardiovascular exercise. Just like in basketball, there’s no running with the ball—but no dribbling, either. Score by completing a pass in the end zone. Five on five works best.
Spud is an old favourite that can be played in parks, the backyard, on quiet residential streets, and in playgrounds. Remember the premise? With everyone standing fairly close together, one person throws the ball straight up in the air, and calls the name of a participant, who races to catch or retrieve the ball as quickly as possible as everyone else scatters. When the player has the ball, they yell “Spud!” and everyone must freeze in place.
The person with the ball is allowed three giant steps in the direction of another player, and they can then aim to roll or throw the ball and hit the person (waist down). The target player cannot move their feet. A hit gives the target a letter, starting with S and progressing through the letters of SPUD until someone has all four letters. If the thrower misses, they receive a letter. The game continues until everyone has all four letters. For a twist on the classic, assign different names (could be favourite food, etc.) to the participants to test everyone’s memory and reaction time when it isn’t their usual name being called.
Hooray for easy games!
This is an inexpensive purchase (or maybe you already have one lurking in those storage areas) that will lead to countless hours of fun!