Beach Games

Age: All ages

No. of players: 2 or more

Equipment: Various (depending on the game). Many beach games require no equipment, while others can use beach balls, tennis balls, a cricket bat, ice cream containers and/or beach junk like sticks or pebbles.

Time: 5 minutes+

Aim: The aim varies with the game.

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There are many Beach Games which can be enjoyed on a sandy beach with either no equipment or with only some common sporting equipment. Just make sure you don't annoy other beachgoers and you clean up any mess you make.

There are also some water games that can be played in a swimming pool or other still body of water (river, dam, etc).

hopscotch layout

Hopscotch. There are many variations of Hopscotch. The following description is the beach game version of this popular game. Each player will need a pebble or stone, and a stick can be used to draw the pitch. It is easy to draw on the firm packed sand near the water's edge, with each square about 50 cm (18 inches) wide. Players take turns to traverse the pitch by hopping on one foot in the single squares, and jumping with both feet in the double squares from 1 to 12 before jumping around in the 11/12 squares and hop/jumping back to the start. For the next round, players try to throw their pebble in square 1. They must avoid that square as they complete the rest of the pitch. For subsequent rounds, they throw their pebble in the higher squares, in order, one square per round. A player who does not hop/jump the pitch correctly or whose pebble does not land wholly within the square must redo that round on their next turn. The first player to complete the course of twelve rounds wins.

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French Cricket. This is a popular beach game in Australia for any number of players. You will need a cricket bat and a tennis ball for this game. One player is the batter while all the other players are fielders. The batter and fielders can stand anywhere they like but, once in position, the batter cannot move their feet. One fielder starts the game by throwing the ball underarm to try to hit the batter on their legs, between the ankles and the knees. The batter can bend their body (without moving their feet) to avoid the ball or they can try to hit the ball. If no one catches the ball after it is hit, any fielder can throw the ball at the batter's legs from the place the ball stopped. The batter cannot move their feet to turn around and face the fielder. Any fielder who catches the ball or who hits the batter on the legs swaps places with the batter.

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Beach Cricket is a fast paced beach game for adults and older children. It requires a cricket bat, tennis ball, two markers (a hat or towel) and some stumps. You could use real stumps, a chair, a bin or something similar. Set up the stumps and place one marker about 10 metres/yards away to one side of the pitch. Smooth the sand for a pitch and place another marker for the bowler about 15-20 metres/yards from the stumps. (You can vary these distances to suit the players.) The batter stands in front of the stumps while the bowler bowls the ball along the pitch. (Full tosses may be needed if the ball does not bounce on the sand!) If the batter hits the ball, no matter how far it travels, they must run, touch the marker with the bat and get back to the stumps to score one run. They can also run more than one lap if they have time. The fielders must return the ball to the bowler who immediately bowls again, even if the batter has not completed their run. The batter is out if a fielder catches the ball or the ball hits the stumps when it is bowled. (Only the bowler can hit the stumps with the ball.) Change bowlers after every ten throws, and make sure everyone gets a turn at batting.

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Ball Run is a simple beach game for teams or individuals of all ages. It requires one tennis ball for each player/team. Competitors try to set up a course for their ball to roll down, with a common finish line for everyone. This can be on a sloping part of the beach, on the sand dunes or you could build a sand castle with the course winding around the outside. The team/player whose ball takes the longest time to complete the course without stopping wins.

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Beach Ball Tag One player is "It" and chases the other players while attempting to tag them by throwing a beach ball and hitting them. When a player is hit, they become the new "It". You may like to mark an area to confine the players in this fast paced and energetic beach game.

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Beach Golf is the beach game version of regular golf, although the rules can be fairly relaxed! Use a number of ice cream containers buried in the sand to their rims as the "holes" for a golf course. You can use a tennis ball (or similar) and any type of "club" (cricket bat, spade, a piece of driftwood, etc.) to play the course.

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Twigs This is a quiet beach game for any number of players. Each player needs five small sticks, with two other sticks pushed into the sand about 10 cm (4 inches) apart. Players take it in turns to draw a line (straight or curved) between any two twigs, with the following rules.

    1. No line may cross any other line
    2. Every new line has a twig placed anywhere along it by the player who drew the line
    3. No twig may have more than three lines joined to it

The winner is the last player to draw a line according to the rules.

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Beach Relays Although they may not be considered true beach games, relay races can provide a lot of entertainment and family fun. Organise your players into teams, mark out a course and try these relay races.

    * Competitors must complete the course by running backwards
    * Ankle relay (where competitors must run while holding their ankles)
    * Teams must do forward rolls/somersaults
    * Crawling on hands and knees
    * Three legged relay (with two members of the team tied together at their ankles by a stocking or similar soft material)
    * Skipping relays (with or without a skipping rope)
    * Dribbling a soccer ball
    * Water relay (Each team has a plastic container of water they must carry over their head and pass to the next team member)
    * Wheelbarrow relay (where one player grasps the ankles of another player who must "run" the course on their hands while their feet are supported in the air)
    * Piggy Back Relay (One player must carry another player from their team on their back while they run)
    * Leap Frog Relay (Two players leapfrog over each other along the course)
    * Sedan Chairs (where two players link their arms to carry a third member of their team)
    * Egg and Spoon relay (competitors use a spade to carry a tennis ball along the course and must pass both spade and ball to the next competitor without dropping them or touching the ball.

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Three against One is an energetic beach game for four players. Three players hold hands to form a ring. The fourth player must try to tag one of the three players while the other two try to prevent him from being tagged. When a tag occurs, the players swap position and a different player is chosen to be tagged.

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Catch and Pull is another energetic beach game for an even number of players. A line is marked on the sand so that it will still be visible even if it is trampled (you may like to use a piece of rope or similar). Players are put into two teams of roughly equal size and strength. On the command "Go!", players on each team try to pull the opposing team's players over the line by grabbing and pulling their arms and legs. (Pulling hair is not allowed!) Once a player is pulled completely over the line, they join the team and help pull their former team mates over the line.

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The following water games may not be real 'beach games' but they are great for swimming pools or other still bodies of water (river, dam, etc). Make sure all players are confident swimmers.

Marco Polo One player is chosen to be Marco Polo. Marco Polo closes her eyes and counts to ten while the other players spread out around the pool. With her eyes still closed, Marco Polo moves around the pool and tries to tag the other players, who can also move around. A player who is tagged becomes the new Marco Polo. To help locate the other players, Marco Polo can call out "Marco" and they must all respond by saying "Polo". One player at a time may also leave the pool and enter again at another place but if Marco Polo says "Fish out of water" while the player is out of the pool, they become the new Marco Polo.

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Shark One player is chosen as the Shark, and closes his eyes as he counts to twenty. Other players scatter around the pool but must stop and freeze when the Shark reaches twenty and says "Still pond". The Shark keeps his eyes closed and moves around, trying to tag any other player. Players can slip under water but must remain in the same position. A player who is tagged becomes the new Shark.

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Three Strikes. All players choose a number and form a circle in the water (one number per player). Number one stands in the middle of the circle with a beach ball. She throws the ball in the air and calls out the number of any other player (for example, "Number 4"). Player number 4 swims to the ball while the other players spread out as far as possible. When player 4 gets the ball, he says "Stop!" and all the other players must stand still. Player 4 throws the ball gently at another player. If the ball hits them, that player has one strike. (Three strikes and a player is out.) Players move back to the centre and player 4 throws the ball in the air while calling another player's number. The game continues until only one player is left.

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Water Statues One of the players is chosen to be the judge and stays out of the pool. The other players move around the pool when the judge says "Go!" and freeze when the judge says "Statues!". The last player to freeze hops out of the water and helps the judge choose the last player next time. The final player in the pool becomes the judge for the new round.

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