In honor of National Backyard games week, we’re highlighting eight of our favorite games to play in your backyard swimming pool.
Rumor has it that this simple game originated aboard a ship in the 12th century as a way for sailors to pass the time. While this hasn’t been confirmed, we can confirm that it is a lot of fun.
It is a great way to get a group of people involved, and it’s incredibly easy to pick up. There are also a lot of variable rules, such as the oft-used “fish out of water” technique, that keeps the game interesting. Perhaps the best feature of Marco Polo is that it requires no equipment, so you can play anytime!
Almost as simple as Marco Polo, a diving game only requires an object that is sinkable. There are many dive toys and objects that you can buy in a store to dive for, but alternatives can be found in a pinch. Dive games do not even require a partner. There are many variations of diving games, such as timed challenges and depth competitions. Plus, kids of all ages can compete!
Among the most popular pool sports are basketball and volleyball, but water polo is also a viable option. Although you need some special equipment, these activities will keep swimmers entertained for hours on end. You can challenge yourself on your own, or you can get a group together and have a full-blown competition! There is a bit of skill involved, but most find it easy to pick up on the general idea! F-I-S-H is also a popular variation of H-O-R-S-E.
This game requires a few friends, but the action is constant and addictive. A designated “shark” patrols one end of the pool, while a group of participants, or “minnows” try to reach the edge. All the minnows start swimming at once, and if any are caught they become sharks for the next round. Minnows that arrive safely start over at the beginning end of the pool. The last minnow alive is the winner!
No equipment needed. This type of game harkens back to the earliest athletic competitions- to see who is the fastest. Participants can compete to see who is quickest on one lap or multiple laps. They can also switch it up by doing different strokes, or by trying to go a certain distance underwater. What could be more fun than channeling your inner Michael Phelps?
Perhaps the most painful pool game ever invented, participate with caution. All you need is a good jumping-off point (preferably a diving board) and a judge. Contestants take turns jumping and landing on their bellies, trying to make the loudest noise and biggest splash. Judging qualifications vary, but often the redness of the jumper’s stomachs is a key indicator of who the champion is. Or are they the loser?
A simple contest, holding your breath for as long as you can have many benefits. It can help in emergency situations, it is good for fishing and diving, etc. It is also a fun way to pass the time when you are in the pool, or if you are a competitive person. For added laughs, try to talk to someone underwater and see if they can guess what you are saying!
The ultimate test of pool wits and strength! Chicken fighting goes back centuries and is arguably the most popular form of pool-based combat. 2 contestants are needed per team, one to act as a base and another to sit on that person’s shoulders and fight. The two on top try to grapple with one another and tip them over. Vary the depth of the pool for different challenges. Always be careful around pool edges and other obstacles that swimmers can fall on and injure themselves. Be sure to play in the center of the pool.
These activities should give you plenty of backyard fun this week. Why not invite a few friends over for some friendly competition? Or combine multiple events for your very own Backyard Olympics!
Parents, encourage your kids to come up with new game variations to challenge their minds, and as always, be sure to supervise all pool activities.