Summer is the time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air with friends and family. It is a season highlighted by family reunions, church potlucks, outdoor parties, tailgates, and BBQs. It is a time when the laughter of friends and family rings through the air until the night sky squeezes out the last tiny drops of light. It is a time to be together, and nothing brings people together quite like fun summer games.
Bocce Ball dates back to 5200 B.C. An almost 7000-year-old painting of two boys playing the game was found by archeologists in an Egyptian tomb. From its Egyptian roots, the game became wildly popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. It is now the third most popular sport on the planet. Part of what makes this game so widespread is that virtually everyone can play it. It is perfect for times when you want a more relaxed yet active evening with friends or family. It is easy enough for people with limited skill and mobility to play, while still challenging enough for athletic individuals.
Bocce Ball is traditionally played by two teams. Each team has four larger balls in a distinguishing color. There is also a small target ball, called the Pallino or Jack. One player throws the Pallino, which then acts as the target. The teams then take turns throwing the larger balls as close to the target as possible. Part of the strategy is to knock the other team’s balls away from the Pallino. Once all the balls have been thrown, the team that has the closest ball to the target gets a point. The first team to get a predetermined number of points wins.
If you want a fast-paced game that will really challenge your skill and coordination, try Spikeball. Spikeball has become a major U.S. hit in its brief 14 years. In fact, by 2017, Spikeball Inc. had sold its one-millionth game. The game has inspired National competitions that have been featured on ESPN2.
Spikeball is played with a trampoline-like net that is three feet in diameter and stands about 10 inches off the ground. The ball, made of rubber, is about the size of a softball. The game is played in two teams of two. Similarly to volleyball, each team has up to three hits during their turn. The ball must be bounced off the net by the third hit, after which it is the other team’s ball. Points are scored when the other team fails to return the ball or when they hit it out.
Cornhole began as a children’s game, invented in Germany during the 14th century by a concerned carpenter who feared for the children in his neighborhood who played a similar game by throwing large stones into self-dug holes. He built two wooden frames with a hole in the middle to replace the pits and sewed soft beanbags to replace the stones. Today, this game is one of the most popular lawn games in the nation.
Similar to horseshoes, cornhole is played by two individuals or two teams of two. The two wooden frames are placed at a distance from each other and the teams take turns throwing their beanbags toward the distant platform. Points are earned for beanbags that go into the hole, as well as for those that land on the platform.
Cornhole is another perfect game for a relaxed evening with friends. It is especially popular at tailgates. Enjoyed by old and young alike, you don’t need any special skills to have fun playing this game.
Gaga Ball is a lesser-known game that is taking the nation by a storm. Gaga ball originated in Israel in the 1970s and has since spread to the United States, where elementary schools and parks across the country are installing Gaga Ball pits. Fun fact: gaga literally means “hit-hit” in Hebrew.
Gaga Ball is played in a large octagon cage or pit. One of the best things about this game is that it can be played by large groups of people–up to 30 at a time. Using their hands and the sides of the pit, players try to tag other players with the ball. Once a player is hit on their legs or feet, they are out for that round. The last person standing wins the round.
Gaga Ball is fast-paced, competitive, and rigorous, and yet it can be played by people of any skill level. Best of all, you don’t need to find a permanent structure. Castle Sports offers a durable, affordable, portable version that you can set up anywhere.
9 Square got its start when youth pastor Steve Otey wanted a game that the kids in his youth ministry would enjoy playing together. A mix between foursquare and volleyball, this addictive game is played in a tall cage-like structure containing nine squares. Unlike in foursquare where the ball is bounced between squares, 9 square is played like volleyball, with players hitting the ball up into other people’s squares. The goal of the game is to get to the king's spot. Players get out whenever they miss the ball or hit it out of bounds.
9 Square is the perfect game for large gatherings. It doesn’t require any special skill, and it is fun for people of all ages. The only downside is how hard it is to get people to stop playing!
Nothing says summer quite like outdoor games. With so many options there is something for everyone, whether you want a more relaxed game like Bocce Ball or Cornhole, or you are looking to bring on the heat with Spikeball, Gaga Ball, or 9 Square.
The games you really don’t want to miss out on can be the hardest ones to find: Gaga Ball and 9 Square. However, you are in luck, because Castle Sports has developed affordable, portable, and durable versions of both. Click here to learn more and to order yours today!