7 Old Fashioned Outdoor Games

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7 Old Fashioned Outdoor Games Everyone Should Know

Playing outdoor games gives folks the opportunity to do something fun and active together. Whether it’s playing an after dinner game with family, or hosting a backyard tournament during a cookout, when friends and families play games outside together memories are made. If you don’t already know how to play these 7 classic outdoor games, here’s a primer.

Croquet: Croquet requires a croquet set and some level ground to play. The set includes 6 mallets in various colors, 6 matching balls, 2 stakes, and wickets. A wicket is a piece of wire bent into a “U” shape. On either end of the field a stake is set up. In front of each stake 2 wickets are pushed into the grass. The wickets are about 6” apart. The remaining wickets are set up on the field in a random path. The object of the game is to knock your ball through all of the wickets and hit the final stake before anyone else does.

Badminton:  Badminton requires special rackets, a net, and a birdie (aka shuttlecock).  The birdie is made up of a weighted point and feathers (or plastic netting) forming a cone shape.  The idea is to hit the birdie back and forth over the net without letting it drop.   The winner of the game is the first person or team to reach 21.  To score a point all you have to do is get the birdie to hit the ground on the opponent’s side of the net regardless of who served.  Three games make a match.   

Horse Shoes:  This game is played with metal horse shoes and two metal stakes.  There are actual horse shoe courts where the stakes are in sand boxes.  The object of the game is to throw from one end of the court to the other, which is about 40 feet, and get the horse shoe around the stake.  This is called a ‘ringer’.  A ringer is scored at 3 points.  If a horse shoe is within 6” of the stake then it counts as 1 point.  Thus the old saying, “Close only counts in horse shoes”. 

Bocce:  This game is hugely popular in Italy.  Bocce is played with 8 balls, 2 each of four colors and a small white ball called the ‘jack’ ball.  One team throws the jack ball into a zone about 16 feet away.  Then the players take turns rolling 4 balls per team to see who can get the closest to the jack ball.  It is possible to hit someone else’s ball away to get a better score.  It is also legal to hit the jack ball to improve your score.  The winner is the first team to score 7 to 13 points depending on regional rules. 

Shuffleboard:  Outdoor shuffleboard used to be played primarily by senior citizens or those on a cruise ship.  However, the relaxing nature of the game has broadened the audience of this game to younger people as well.  The shuffleboard court is 39 feet long and is made up of a scoring triangle on each end.  This game is played with 8 discs, 4 each of two colors, 2 cues and a court.  Line up 4 of one color to the left of the scoring triangle and 4 to the right of the scoring triangle.  The players take turns pushing the discs down the court with their cues trying to get the disc into the scoring triangle.  Depending on where the discs end up the score will be determined.  It is legal to knock your opponent’s disc out of the scoring triangle to better your position.  The first person to 75 wins. 

Ladder Ball:    To play ladder ball you need 2 ladders, each with three rungs, 3 bolas per team and some space.  Bolas are made up of a rope between 2 golf balls.  Ladder ball can be played with up to 6 players and they each need to have their own set of bolas in a different color.  The ladders can be any distance apart and are often played in a parking lot while tailgating before the big game.  The first player stands at one end of the court and throws his bola at the ladder and tries to get it to hang on a rung.  Each rung is worth 1, 2, or 3 points depending on house rules.  All of the players throw their bolas.  Everyone gets their score and then play switches to the other end of the court.  The first person to reach 21 points wins.    

Yard Darts:  This game is also known as Lawn Darts or Jarts.  To play this game you need a set of yard darts, targets and a yard.  The targets look like small hula hoops.  The targets are placed about 35 feet apart.  The rest of the game continues like horse shoes.  Each player has 2 darts.  The first player stands at one end and tosses their dart underhanded and tries to get the dart into the ring.  If a dart is in the ring you score a point.  Take turns throwing the darts and then score after each inning.  The winner is the first player or team to score 21 points.  Some versions of this game have a smaller bull’s-eye ring. If a player gets a bull’s-eye, additional points are doled out.