With the arrival of warmer weather, families, friends, and especially children are heading outdoors for fun. And what better way to have a good, safe time in the sunshine than enjoying some classic outdoor games with the whole gang? You can quickly become the envy of your neighbors by setting up a court and equipment for any one of these three exciting outdoor games.
Bocce ball is a great game because it works for all ages and all skill levels. The objective of bocce ball is to throw or roll your bocce ball as close as possible to the pallina, which is a smaller target ball.
The game is started by tossing a coin, and whoever calls it correctly rolls the pallina from the pitch line at their end of the court, trying to reach the center of the court. From that point on, teams take turns rolling or tossing their bocce balls from the pitch line to see who can get the closest to the pallina. To win, players will often attempt to displace the pallina by hitting it with a bocce ball and thus moving it away from the opponent’s bocce ball.
Scoring occurs at the end of a match. The team with the closest bocce ball gets a point (and two points if the bocce ball is touching the pallina), and the first team to reach a set number of points is the winner. There are eight bocce balls (four each of two different colors and patterns to help differentiate between teams or players) and one pallina ball in a bocce set. And keep in mind that you do not have to play this game in teams — two individuals can play just as well.
Bocce ball can be played just about anywhere there is a flat area of ground, and that includes concrete, asphalt, packed dirt, and closely mown grass. Official bocce courts are 10’ x 76’ but you can work with whatever space you have available. All you need to play is a flat area of ground, a set of bocce balls, and if you really want to accurately call close matches, a tape measure.
Another classic outdoor summer game is horseshoes, aka “barnyard golf.” To play, you need a horseshoe set that at a minimum includes four playing horseshoes (horseshoes for playing are about twice the size of the ones that horses wear) and two stakes to serve as the targets. Having a pencil, paper, and ruler on hand can be a good idea too.
Your horseshoe court, which needs to be on a flat section of ground, should be set up as follows:
- A 6’ x 46’ rectangular court A pit at each end of the court that is 31” – 36” wide, 43” – 72” long, and 4” deep filled with dirt, sand, or sawdust so that they are level with the court
- A stake driven at the center of each pit, 40’ from each other, with 15” of the stake above the ground
- Two foul lines at 3’ and 13’ from each stake
Each team gets two horseshoes. Teams take turns pitching one horseshoe at a time toward a stake, with experienced players throwing from behind the first foul line and others throwing from anywhere behind the second foul line. After the first team is done, the second team pitches at the same stake. After this, the scores are recorded and the horseshoes are retrieved. Then play starts from the other side of the court, aiming for the other stake. This constitutes a single inning.
Scoring for horseshoes is straightforward:
- A horseshoe encircling the stake (a ringer): 3 points
- A horseshoe touching but not encircling the stake (a leaner): 1 point (2 points for amateur games)
- A horseshoe landing within 6 inches of a stake: 1 point
- A horseshoe landing 6 inches or more from a stake: 0 points
The game is then played until a team scores 40 points (although you can select any number of points you wish) or you can play a shoe-limit game which ends after 40 horseshoes have been thrown.
Tetherball is a classic game that is more physically engaging than the other outdoor games discussed thus far and involves a ball attached to a pole via a rope. The objective of the game is simple: be the first one to hit the ball such that it wraps completely around the pole.
Tetherball requires a vertical metal pole that is about 10’ (but can be shorter for younger players) that has been secured into the ground (usually pavement, grass, or gravel and inserted into cement for safety). A ball is attached to the pole via a nylon rope that is long enough for the ball to hang 2’ from the ground when it is not wrapped around the pole. The tetherball court should be a circle about 10’ to 12’ in diameter, divided into two halves.
The two players decide who serves first and then take turns striking the ball using the hand or forearm while staying within their half of the court and not touching either the pole or the rope.
With a little bit of preparation and some equipment, you can have a great time playing bocce ball, horseshoes, or tetherball with friends and family. A little prep time to prepare a court and review the rules and you will be on your way to some great times outdoors this summer.
Wayne Sporting Goods
At Wayne Sporting Goods, we have all the equipment you need for playing outdoor games, from bocce ball sets to high-quality tetherball poles. We also have the lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing you need to enjoy the outdoors no matter how hot it may get. Stop by today and get set up for a summer full of good times with friends and family!