There’s no denying that balls = summer fun. Beach, volley, bocce, golf, you name it, there is no denying it. When used in these popular outdoor lawn games listed below, balls join bean bags, horseshoes, frisbees and other easy-to-pack gear as great ways to reap the health benefits of getting active outdoors while celebrating the summer with friends and family.   

Bocce ball

Men playing Bocce

This classic Italian game couldn’t be much simpler: Huck the white “pallina” ball into a sandy or grassy open space and then take turns trying to score points by getting eight larger balls closest to the pallina. And if balls collide, so be it! The first player or team to 12 wins. Depending on where you live, you may even find designated bocce pits nearby. Full rules here.  


This two-on-two laugh riot involves bouncing a squishy grapefruit-sized ball off a circular net stretched over a frame on the ground. Like volleyball, teams can touch the ball three times before it hits the net. When a team can’t get the ball to the net in three touches or less, the other team scores a point. Games are typically played to 15. Full rules here.

Ladder toss

Also known as “Ladder Golf,” or “Monkey Balls,” this game sees teams throw bolas — two wooden balls attached by a string — at free-standing ladders. The objective: wrap the bolas around one or more of the ladders’ three rungs to score points. Bonus points for calling it “Monkey Balls” with a straight face. Full rules here.

Tip: Consider power walking back and forth in any tossing or bowling game to make the movement count as ‘moderate’ exercise. You’ll be reducing your risk for 25 chronic diseases and conditions. 


Get your mind out of the gutter! This backyard standby involves whipping small bean bags at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the board scores 1. You also get to yell “cornhole!” whenever you score 3, so…you’re welcome. Play continues until a team or player reaches 21. Full rules here.

Tug of war

Men playing tug of war

Best played on a soft surface like sand or grass, this sucker lets you show off your He-Man-like strength. Divide your summer party into two teams with a rope stretched between them. Then start pulling like there’s no tomorrow to try and yank the opposing team across a central line. Bonus points for unnecessary flexing.


If you’ve seen the movie Dodgeball you know this game is hilarious. If you haven’t, here’s the deal: You divide your summer party into two teams, mark a dividing centre line, and try to hit members of the other team with a soft-ish ball of some kind (a volleyball or utility ball works well). If YOU get hit, you’re out! Last player standing wins it for their team. Full rules here…actually, that’s pretty much all of them.

Backyard croquet

As many as six players use long-handled wooden mallets to smack coloured balls through a series of nine gates arranged on a lawn. If a player hits another player’s ball, the one who makes contact gets to put their ball up against their opponent’s and, with a smack of the mallet, send the rival ball into a low Earth orbit. The first player to make it through all the gates and hit a central stake is the winner. Full rules here.


No equipment for any of these games to play outside? No problem! Relive your childhood with a super-simple game that can be surprisingly fun. While the whole family will have a tonne of fun with tag at the park, in the backyard, at the beach — the game goes anywhere — it can also veer into R-rated territory if you choose. Adult option 1: Play with your significant other, and “tagging” can mean anything goes (including your clothes). Adult option 2: Play with your buddies and have the game go on for decades as it does in the 2018 movie Tag (and for the real guys the movie is based on). 


Instead of balls, this game uses shuttlecocks. If that doesn’t sell you on badminton, consider that shuttlecocks’ conical shape slows them down as they fly through the air, allowing players to smash them as hard as they damn well please with the game’s lightweight racquets. Swing as hard as you like, and the shuttlecock will somehow stay in play. Plus, the net can go anywhere there are two things to tie it to. Full rules here.

Whatever you do, just get active. Consider working towards bagging 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to reap significant health benefits! 

Are there summer games you like to play? Share the fun in the comments below!

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