Yard Games with Balls

When you’re not willing to pay a small fortune on playsets or pools, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any other ways to get your kids outside on a sunny day. In fact, it takes as little as having a ball and lawn space to keep not only them, but you as well entertained for hours. There are many yard games with balls to play!

When creating a fun game to play with a ball, you should rely on your imagination and creativity. But, if you have a hard time finding some at the moment, make sure to check our list of some really fun backyard ball games.



First things first, regardless of what game you’re playing, make up the basic rules before you start. It’s better to keep things simple. In other words, if the game is based on another sport, like basketball, make the rules simpler from the way the basketball game is normally played.

Also, don’t forget to determine the time limit of the game. The dimensions of the playing field can be whatever size fits into your backyard.

And finally, keep in mind that having a ball is a must to play any of the following games.


Types of Games to Play with a Ball

There’s a wide variety of yard games you can play with a ball, and each of them falls into a certain category depending on its main objective. Here are some game templates to start with when choosing a game.


Target Games

These games are neither competitive nor based on speed, but rather on being able to hit the target with the ball. Some of them are turn-based and can be both fast-moving and played leisurely, depending on the mood. You can play these games with all kinds of balls.

We’ll discuss the following two types of target yard games:

  • Ball on ball/object games
  • Ball into target games


Ball on Ball/Object Games

Ball on ball/object games are played in such a way that you impact a ball or a set of objects with another ball. The following well-known games fall into this category:

  • Croquet
  • Bocce Ball
  • Bowling/Lawn Bowling


Ball Into Target Games

The object of these games is to get the ball into a target. While doing so, you’ll follow any rule you’ve made up before the game. For instance, you won’t be allowed to use all the parts of your body on the ball, but a particular one only. Furthermore, you can decide whether you’ll be allowed to move with the ball or not. You can also have either opposing teams or take turns.

Some examples of these games are:

  • Soccer
  • Basketball
  • Turn-based games


Ball Away Games

The goal of these games is to keep the ball away from someone or something. They can be competitive but not necessarily.

Some examples of this type of games are:

  • Keep Up
  • Keep Away

Volleyball fits in this category as well, seeing that the main objective in the game is to keep the ball away from the ground on your side while trying to hit it on the opposite side.


Competitive Games

In competitive action games, as the name itself implies, the players compete against each other for a specific outcome.

All the professional games, such as soccer, handball, squash, tennis, basketball, fall into this category. Therefore, you might need some additional equipment that’ll stand in for nets, basket, or goals. However, you can modify the actual game to play with whatever you have at your disposal.


Cooperative Games

Cooperative games are those in which the players work together in order to achieve a common goal. The emphasis isn’t on defeating someone but rather on participation, challenge, and fun. They can be competitive as well; however, the outcome isn’t losing and sitting out until the game is finished. Instead, the players can switch teams, so all of them win.


Yard Games to Play with Balls

Now that we’ve discussed the types of ball games, let’s take a closer look at the games themselves. There are thousands of variations of each and each one has its own rules and requirements. But then again, you can modify every game depending on your wishes and the available equipment.

Below the table, you can find a list of balls and equipment for the yard ball game you like to play.

GamePlayers RequiredType
Crack Up5+Ball Away - Competitive
SPUD3+Ball Away - Competitive
Run Down5+Ball Away - Cooperative
Keep Up3+Cooperative
Keep Away3+Ball Away - Cooperative
FLINCH3+Ball on Ball - Competitive
Say and Catch3+Ball on Ball - Competitive
Down Down3+Competitive
Flies and Grounders2+Ball on Ball - Competitive
Bowling/Lawn Bowling2+Ball Into Target - Competitive
Bocce Ball2+Ball on Ball - Competitive
Soccer4+Ball Into Target - Competitive/Cooperative
Basketball2+Ball Into Target - Competitive/Cooperative
HORSE2+Ball Into Target - Competitive
Blindfold Throw the Ball into Basket2+Ball Into Target - Competitive
Tunnel Ball6+Cooperative

Equipment and Balls for Yard Games

BallBuy Now
Soccer ball[button color="btn-success" size="btn-md" shape="btn-rounded" outline="false" block="true" icon="fa-amazon" icon_position="right" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000L2DSLK?tag=topyard-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1"]Check Price[/button]
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Basketball Hoop[button color="btn-success" size="btn-md" shape="btn-rounded" outline="false" block="true" icon="fa-amazon" icon_position="right" target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002PL5KYI?tag=topyard-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1"]Check Price[/button]

Crack Up

crack up game

Approximately five players and a large, soft ball are required to play this game. The one who has the ball is named ‘It’. They should throw the ball at some other player, who can either catch it or dodge it. If the ball hits the player, they lose a point; if they catch it, ‘It’ loses one. If no one catches the ball, any player can gain possession of it and become ‘It’.

Any player remains in the game until they lose five points. The game is on until there’s only one player left.



kids running

It’s a game where players try to eliminate each other and it’s played with a soft playground ball. The game requires at least three players, with no upper limit. They should determine the playing area before the start of the game, so they don’t run too far away.

All the players stand in a circle, except ‘It’, who has the ball and stands in the middle. Also, each player is assigned a number. ‘It’ starts the game by throwing the ball in the air and calling out one of these numbers while the others run away. The player carrying that number grabs the ball and yells ‘SPUD’, which means the rest of the players must freeze. At this point, the player holding the ball is allowed to take four giant steps toward one of the players and try to hit them with the ball. The target player shouldn’t move their feet but is allowed to bend or sway.

If the ball hits the target player, they get the letter S and become ‘It’. If ‘It’ misses, on the other hand, they get an S instead and remain in their role. A player remains in the game until they get all four letters, spelling SPUD.


Run Down

run downThe game is played in such a way that two players, both selected to be ‘It’, are standing on two bases that are about 20 feet apart. They toss a softball back and forth, while the rest of the players are trying to steal a base. To do so, they run from one base to the other while trying not to be tagged with the ball. Once a player is tagged, they become ‘It’. The game requires at least three players.


Keep Up

keep the ball up

In this game, the players work jointly to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. It can be played with all types of balls and with at least two players, with no upper limit. However, playing it with a soccer ball won’t be as easy as with a beach ball, for instance.

Moreover, you can make the game more challenging by allowing the players to use only a particular part of their body to keep the ball in the air, to stand in a particular place, and so on.


Keep Away

keep away game

This game requires at least three players and a ball. It’s played by drawing a circle on the ground about 10 feet in diameter. One of the players, called ‘It’, stands in the middle and the rest stand outside the circle. The players toss the ball back and forth while the one in the center tries to intercept it.

The goal is to prevent ‘It’ from catching the ball. Once the player in the middle catches it, they trade places with the intended recipient who fails to catch the ball. There’s no winner in the game, therefore it continues as long as the players want it to.




The game is played in such a way that one player, called ‘It’, has the ball while the other players stand at a predetermined distance with their arms folded. ‘It’ is supposed to either throw the ball towards the other players or to fake a throw. The game requires at least three people to play. Also, it’s for the best to play with a larger ball since it’s easier to catch.

When the throw is faked, the players have to keep their arms folded and catch the ball when it’s thrown. Otherwise, when a player flinches when the ball is faked or fails to catch it when it’s thrown, they earn a letter. Once a player spells the word FLINCH, they become ‘It’. The game is on for however long the players want to play.


Say and Catch

tossing a ball

The players need to choose a category before starting the game, then arrange in a circle and toss a ball between them. The game requires three players or more.

Each player before catching the ball should say something from the category they chose previously. For instance, if they decided upon ‘fruits’, they should say the name of some fruit before catching the ball, but not repeat the same thing as someone else beforehand. If they fail to do so or miss the ball, they’re out of the game. The last player is the winner.


Down Down

throwing a ballThe game requires at least three players and one ball. Being arranged in a circle, the players throw the ball back and forth randomly. Another option is to form a semi-circle around one player who will throw the ball.

The player who is being thrown at is supposed to catch it. Once they drop it, they go down on one knee. When the same player misses the ball twice, they go down on both knees. On the third miss, the player must put one hand behind the back. The player is out after the fourth miss. The last person remaining wins the game.


Flies and Grounders

flies and grounders

The game can be played with only two players and a ball to toss back and forth. A player earns two points for catching the ball in the air and one point for fielding a grounder. The goal of each player is to mislead the other one about the way the ball is coming from – that is, whether it’s a fly or grounder. If the ball can’t be caught, the player who is supposed to receive it gets another chance. The players agree upon a score in advance, and once it’s reached, the game is over.


Bowling/Lawn Bowling

bowls and jack

It’s a game that involves relatively simple equipment – biased bowls and a jack, and it’s played with at least two players.

The main objective of lawn bowling is to roll your bowls as near the jack as possible and to make sure they’re closer to the target than those of your opponent. If you have more than one bowl closer to the jack than the opposing player, you’ll get the corresponding number of points.

However, you don’t necessarily need actual bowls to play the game. Any type of ball will do the job. But, the heavier the ball, the better.


Bocce Ball

bocce ball

Bocce Ball is played with 8 bocce balls and a small white ball – pallino or jack. Of course, you don’t need the actual equipment as in the game to play it. You can use a tennis ball or something like that as a jack, and soccer balls, for instance, as bocce balls. The game requires two players (4 balls each) or two teams of two (2 balls each) or four (1 ball each). However, unlike lawn bowls, bocce balls are spherical. The goal is to throw the bocce balls closer to the jack than your opponent. Typically, the match consists of 3 frames, and the first player or team to reach 12 points wins. But, you can modify the rules in a way that serves you.

The players flip a coin to decide which team throws the pallino first. After a player throws it anywhere on the playing field, they also throw the first bocce ball. Then, taking turns, the teams continue throwing the balls until all of them are thrown. A team earns a point for each of their balls that is closer to the jack than that of their opponent. If the bocce ball touches the pallino, it’s known as ‘baci’ or ‘kiss’; if it stays that way until the round is finished, the team is rewarded 2 points.



kids playing soccer

The main objective of the game is to get the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal without using your arms or hands – that is, to score more goals than the opposing team. Soccer is a team sport, but it can be played one on one as well. Each team should consist of an even number of players.

Soccer is played on a rectangular field, with a goal at both ends and with almost any spherical ball. But, make sure to adjust the size of the net and determine the size of the field first. Just as in all competitive sports, the winner is the team or player that scores more goals.




Basketball is a game in which the object is to score more points than the opposing team by shooting the ball into the opposing team’s hoop. You’ll make up the basic rules, like points per shot and length of the match before the start of the game. But, keep in mind that walking isn’t allowed unless you’re dribbling.

You can use any hoop for this purpose and place it pretty much anywhere, even on the ground. Although it’s a team sport, basketball can also be played by only two players. The team or player with the most points wins.




HORSE is a variation of a basketball game, played by two or more people. Taking turns, each of them shoots at the basket. The first player can take a shot from anywhere on the court. They can even make up some additional rules, like shooting with their eyes closed or behind their back, and must satisfy all of them. If they make the basket, the rest of the players must attempt the same shot. If the first player misses, on the other hand, the second one creates a new shot, which the others will attempt to copy later.

When a player misses, they get a letter of the word HORSE. When the player gets all five letters, they’re out of the game. The last person left standing wins.


Blindfold Throw the Ball into Basket

blindfold throw the ball into basket

It’s also a kind of variation of a basketball game, which can be played with two or more people. For this game, all the players need the same number of balls, a basket, and a blindfold each. The baskets should be arranged next to each other, in a line, and each player should stand at equal distance from them. Being blindfolded, each player tries to throw their balls inside the basket. That being so, make sure the balls are small enough to fit.

The players should decide in advance how many rounds they’re going to throw. For each successful shot, the player earns a point. The winner is the one with the most points overall.


Tunnel Ball

tunnel ball

The tunnel ball is played by at least 6 players and with a ball. To begin the game, they divide into two teams, with an even number of players, and line up in a straight line with their legs spread, forming a tunnel.

All the players face the same direction, except for the player at the end of the line who turns the other way. The last player stands with their knees bent and their head down, waiting for the ball that passes through the tunnel, while the players at the front roll it between the players’ legs. Once it reaches the end of the tunnel, the back person grabs it and runs to the front of the line, rolling it again. When all the players have a turn, the game ends. The faster team is the winner.

Alternatives to Yard Games with Balls

If, for whatever reason, you can’t or you don’t want to play games with balls, check out the lawn dice games we have prepared. It’s about fun, and when it’s about fun, there’s no wrong way if everybody agrees.

The advantage of yard ball games is that you don’t need as many balls. You can improvise, and use one ball for several different games. This, however, does not apply to games like Bocce Ball and Bowling. Anyhow, buying some of these balls, guarantees a ton of a “ball time”.


What yard games with balls can I play by myself?

In general, most of the backyard ball games require at least two players. However, you can modify some of them to the point where you can play them all by yourself. For instance, you can try to keep the ball up in the air all alone. Also, you don’t need teammates to practice skills. Shooting baskets, as well as shooting on goal, are perfect games to play with a ball alone.

What games with a ball can I play inside?

Most of the ball games require more space and therefore are more convenient to play outside on the lawn. However, you can play some of them indoors as well. For instance, turn a cardboard box into a basket and practice shooting with a smaller ball, like a tennis ball. Moreover, you can arrange a few bottles and play bowling inside, too. Keep Up with a beach ball or a balloon is convenient for indoors as well.

What games can I play with a ball?

The list of games you can play with a ball is quite long, all you need is available space in your yard and the necessary equipment. Some of them require a few players, while the others only two. But, you can modify each of them according to the equipment you have at your disposal. Some of the most fun yard games to play with balls are SPUD, Keep Away, Bocce Ball, Lawn Bowling, FLINCH, Say and Catch, and many more.

Martha M.

Martha M.

I'm passionate about small DIY projects and my modest garden. I'm always up for a challenge! Soon after getting out of university, I realized I won't find many if I don't set the ground myself. Soon after, TopYardDesign.com was created.

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