Ball Games

Age: All ages

No. of players: 2 or more

Equipment: Various balls (tennis ball, soccer ball, volley ball, balloon or other soft ball, etc.)

Time: 10 minutes+

Aim: The aim varies from game to game.

Ball games are a great way for all the family to get some active exercise while enjoying the outdoors. Some ball games are suitable for the backyard while others may need more space, such as a field.

    Sevenses can be played by one or more players. It needs a tennis ball or rubber ball and a brick wall.
    Dodge Ball suits three or more players. It needs a soft ball (about the size of a soccer ball; a volleyball is ideal, although you could use a tennis ball, or similar, if you don't have a bigger ball) and an area which doesn't matter if the ball is thrown fairly hard.
    Newcombe Ball is a ball game for 6 or more players and two helpers. It needs a piece of rope about 6 metres (20 feet) long and a volleyball (although a soccer ball, or similar, could be used).
    Ball Trap needs one tennis ball (or similar) for each group of 6-8 players.
    Astride Ball is suitable for 6 or more players. It needs a basketball, soccer ball or volleyball, although you may be able to use a tennis ball with older children.

Sevenses is a simple ball game with the aim of throwing and catching the ball in seven different ways. For example:

    Throw the ball against the wall and catch it. (7 times)
    Throw the ball against the wall and catch it after it bounces once on the ground. (6 times)
    Bounce the ball on the ground and catch it. (5 times)
    Throw the ball under your leg and catch it after it bounces off the wll. (4 times)
    Throw the ball against the wall, let it bounce once then hit it back against the wall and catch it. (3 times)
    Throw the ball against the wall and touch the ground before catching the ball. (2 times)
    Throw the ball against the wall and turn around once before catching the ball. (1 time)
A player continues through the sequence until they make a mistake, when it becomes the next player's turn. (If you play by yourself, you must start the whole sequence again if you make a mistake.)

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Dodge Ball. The aim of this ball game is to hit other players below their knees with the ball. If you have lots of players, they can form a circle with one or two players in the centre. The players around the outside of the circle throw the ball at the inside players' legs. A player who gets hit swaps with the thrower. If you have only a few players, it may be easier if you have a line of throwers and a wall behind the target player.

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Newcombe Ball needs two helpers to hold the rope just above head height. (Helpers can stand on chairs so their arms don't get so tired.) A court area is marked on each side of the rope by placing a jumper or hat at the corners about 6 metres (20 feet) from the rope. Players divide into two teams, one on each side of the rope.

One team throws the ball over the rope and the other team tries to catch it before it touches the ground. If they catch it, they throw it back ove the rope. If they miss the ball, the other side scores one point. If the ball is thrown outside the court, the receiving team scores one point. The first team to score eleven points wins.

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Ball Trap. This simple ball game needs one tennis ball (or similar) for each group of 6-8 players. One member of each group (the caller) is given a ball. The other players move around. The caller calls out the name of another player and tosses the ball to them. If the player catches the ball, they call "Stop!" (If they miss, the players keep moving; the caller gets the ball and throws it again to any player when their name is called out.) When the catcher calls "Stop!", the other players must stand still and cannot move their feet. The player who caught the ball tries to hit any other player on the legs (gently) with the ball. A player who is hit becomes the new caller. If the thrower misses, they become the new caller.

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Astride Ball. One player stands in the middle while the other players form a circle around them with their feet apart to form "goals" and their hands on their knees. The central player tries to score a goal by throwing the ball between any player's legs. (To avoid dangerous hard throws, players must keep their arm straight and below their shoulder when they throw the ball.) The player on the outside can take their hands off their knees to catch or otherwise stop the ball from scoring a goal. If the central player does score a goal, they score one point and the two players swap places. The outside player scores one point if they catch the ball, but the players do not swap places. The player with the highest number of points at a certain time limit (say 10 minutes) wins the game.

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