There’s no toy in the world that is as universally loved and flexible as the ball. Coming in all shapes and sizes, the ball is a key component in many sports and games, but when it comes to having playtime with your kids, you may not have all the equipment or players to play basketball or soccer.
Worry not, as here are 6 engaging ball games that you can play with your kids that can fit with a variety of players with little equipment needed. These games are flexible enough to adjust the rules and fun for kids of all ages. Parents or guardians can also participate in these games as well!
An all-time classic that can be played with any small sized ball, this game is great for developing your child’s hand-eye coordination. Just about anyone can play this and there’s no strict rules on how to play.
The game revolves around throwing the ball back and forth between the players. As an entry game that is mostly played to improve catching and throwing skills, there isn’t a point system that will determine a winner, but modifications can be made to make the game more exciting. For example, there can be a rule to use a person’s non-dominant hand only or if the ball is big enough, a person must dribble before they pass.
Traditionally played with a ball around the size of a tennis ball, handball is a game that is easy to learn and can be modified to suit all players. All you need is a round ball of any size and a wall.
The rules are simple; a server must hit the ball against the wall and the other player must return the ball by hitting it back against the wall before it bounces on the ground twice. When returning the ball, it must also hit the wall before it hits the floor. If the player fails to return the ball, then the other player gets the point.
This game can be played with any number of players. With even numbers, players can line up into two teams and take turns hitting the ball against the wall before going to the back of the line. With an odd number of players, players can form one line and play an “elimination” style, where if a player fails to return the ball, they are out.
Playing 500 is a great way to sneak in some addition and subtraction practice with your kids! The game requires at least three players and a small ball (like a baseball or football). If your kids are strong enough, you can even use a soccer ball and kick it.
One person is the thrower and everyone else is spread out, about throwing distance from the thrower. The thrower tosses the ball in the air towards everyone else and shouts out a number from 50 to 500. The person that catches it gets as many points as the thrower yells, but if the person drops it or misses it, they lose the same number of points. Once a person reaches 500, they become the thrower for the next round.
500 is an extremely flexible game as there are a bunch of variations that you can play! One variation involves similar rules, but instead of the thrower yelling out a number, the points are given depending on how the players catch the ball. If the ball is caught before it bounces, it’s worth 100 points; after the first bounce, 75; after the second bounce, 50; after the third bounce, 25. Any more bounces after that doesn’t count for points. The first person to reach 500 points becomes the thrower of the next round.
SPUD is a fun game that develops a child’s listening skills. In order to play SPUD, you need a soft ball and at least three players. Each player will be assigned as a number and one person will be “it”. Every other player will form a circle around the person who’s “it”. Be sure that each player is 3 steps away from that person. You may also want to determine what is out of bounds. Once you assign the numbers, who’s “it”, the formation, and what is out of bounds, you can start playing SPUD.
The person who’s “it” will throw the ball straight up in the air and call out a number. Everyone else will run away, except the person who’s number was called out. That player instead must catch the ball and call out “SPUD”. Other players must freeze once “SPUD” is called. The player who has the ball must then throw the ball towards a frozen player. The frozen player is allowed to sway their body or move their hands, but they are not allowed to move their feet. If the frozen player gets in contact with the ball or moves their feet, they get a letter and becomes “it”. If the thrower misses or the frozen player catches the ball, the thrower receives a letter and becomes “it”. When a player gets all four letters to spell “SPUD”, they are out.
FLINCH is another letter game, similar to SPUD, that requires a minimum of two players. This game teaches children to not flinch immediately if a ball is thrown their way and is another great game in familiarizing your children with the ball.
One player is “it” and throws a soft ball to other players who are about 8 feet away with their arms folded. The player who’s “it” can also fake the throw. The players who are being thrown at must keep their arms folded when the ball is being faked and catch the ball if it’s actually being thrown. Flinching when the ball is faked or failing to catch the ball results in a letter. The first player who gets all 5 letters to spell “FLINCH” becomes “it”.
Kickball is a fun spin-off of baseball and requires only a soft rubber ball or soccer ball and eight players. It’s a great active game if you have a lot of players that’s fun regardless of their age and ability.
The rules of kickball are very similar to baseball. Players are split up into two teams and play on a diamond-shaped playing field with three bases and a home plate. This can be easily marked with some chalk, pinecones, backpacks, etc. One team will be kicking the ball and the other will be fielding. The fielding team’s pitcher will gently throw or roll the ball to the kicker and the kicker will kick the ball, then advance around the bases.
The fielding team can get the runner out by reaching a base first with the ball in hand or by throwing the ball directly at the runner and hitting them with it. The runner may not catch or touch the ball either. Just like in baseball, there are also strikes and fouls. Three strikes makes an out, and three outs means that the teams must switch sides.