“When I was a kid”… boy, that sounds like something your dad would start out a conversation with when he was trying to make a point of “how easy you kids got it today”, right? Let’s try this again… “back when I was a child” (sounds better, right?) all we needed was a piece of chalk, a ball, and a jump rope to keep us more or less entertained all day. Not that we wouldn’t have been distracted by a Wii if Wiis were invented, but we didn’t have them, and managed to while away the summer days in idyllic bliss!
Many of our summer games used a basic rubber ball with a good bounce. There were basically 2 different types of ball games we played. First, the type that involved some type of grid on the ground, like Four Square. This required more than one person. The other type of games were usually played by yourself, while waiting for a friend to finish lunch. These were bouncing games, either on the ground like “A, My Name is Alice”, or off a wall, like “7-Up”.
I am sharing just a few of the ball games I enjoyed the most. As with all these games, there may be some “official rules” out there, but most varied from neighborhood to neighborhood. I am sharing the games and the rules as we played them. Hope they bring back some memories and encourage you to play them with the wee ones in your life 🙂
What were some of your favorite ball games as a child or those that your children are playing now?
Rubber playground ball
At least 4 players
Draw 1 large square with chalk on a hard, level surface. Then, divide into 4 equal squares. The overall dimension of the court depends on the age of the children playing and their skill level.
For elementary: 8’ x 8’
For middle school: 16’ x 16’
Divide the large square into 4 squares and label them clockwise A, B, C, D. Square A is the “serving” square. You may want to draw a diagonal line to serve as a service line.
One player stands in the far corner of each square facing the server in box A.
The server begins the game by bouncing the ball once behind the service line, and hitting it open hand, into another square.
The player receiving the ball must allow the ball to bounce once in their square, then using an open hand, hit it into another square. The game continues until someone commits a “fault”.
Step over the service line when serving
Misses a serve
Fails to return a hit
Hits the ball with a fist
Hits the ball overhand
Hits a line
Hits a ball out of bounds (outside the large square)
Is hit by the ball on any part of the body except the hands
When faults occur:
When a player commits a fault, the players shift around the court.
If the server in square A commits a fault, they must move to square D. Then D moves to C, C moves to B, B moves to A and becomes the new server. The goal is to become server.
If there are more than 4 people playing, when someone commits a fault, they leave the game, and the next person waiting in line moves into square D. Everyone shifts as described above, unless D was the one that faulted, then the new player simply takes his place. The person that faulted out goes to the back of the line, and can re-enter the game when his turn comes up again.
There is no “end” to the game. The game continues until players grow tired of the game or it is time to quit. The better players are rewarded by getting the most court time and getting to serve more frequently.
Don’t have 4 people to play Four Square, no problem. Play Two Square! Think of Two Square like Ping-Pong, except it is played with a rubber ball, and the ground instead of a table. You can use a Four Square court, using 2 attached squares. Instead of serving behind the diagonal service line, you stand outside of your square. You can also use squares on a sidewalk. If you do, use a smaller ball.
Play: One player is server. She continues serving the ball until she commits a fault. The ball then goes to the other person and he serves until he commits a fault. Instead of changing places if a fault occurs, the person creating a fault loses a point to the other person.
The faults are the same as Four Square.
Traditionally, the game continues until one person reaches 21 points and “wins”. If players want to spend less time, they can decide on a small number, like 11, but this needs to be determined before the game begins.
Make up a grid with 2 columns and at least 4 rows. The boxes should be about 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep. Number the boxes beginning in the bottom left column, and number clockwise, coming back down the second column. In each of the boxes, write a different category familiar to all players.
To begin play, one player stands behind the line at box 1. She rolls the ball into the first box. She must stop the ball with her hands or feet before it leaves the box. Then, she stands up, bounces the ball once in the box, and gives the name of something that meets the category. This has to be a name that no one in this game has used before. The player continues moving through all 8 squares, bouncing the ball once in each box, and giving a name of something that meets the category. They keep going through the grid until they fault out, or successfully finish the round.
If the person did not fault out, then still standing outside of box 1, they must roll the ball into box 2, and stop it with their hands or feel before it leaves the box. The player cannot touch the ball before it reaches the correct box.
Play continues until a player faults out, or successfully goes all the way around the court, rolling the ball with each new level. If the player faults out, the play is continued by the next player, and the player that just faulted must go to the end of the line and wait her turn.
Lose control of the ball
Hesitates when giving an answer
Gives a wrong answer
Steps on a line
Rolls the ball into the wrong box or out of bounds
The winner is the first player to make it through all 8 levels. Some people play that if you make a mistake, you must start all over on your next turn at box 1. Other people play that you can pick up at the last level you faulted on.
Small rubber ball or tennis ball
Windowless brick wall
Make a line on the ground at least 5 feet from the wall.
The object of the game is to get through 7 levels of motions. The motions we used differed at times, and you can certainly create your own.
~Onesies: Bounce the ball against the wall, and catch the ball, once.
~Twosies: Bounce the ball against the wall, twirl around and catch the ball. Do this twice.
~Threesies: Bounce the ball against the wall, clap three times, and catch the ball. Do this three times.
~Foursies: Bounce the ball against the wall, clap your hands once in front of your body and once behind, and catch the ball. Do this four times.
~Fivesies: Bounce the ball against the wall, slap your hands against your thighs, then crossed slap your chest, then clap your hands, and catch the ball. Do this five times.
~Sixies: Bounce the ball against the wall, lift your right knee and clap under it, then lift your left knee and clap under it, and catch the ball. Do this six times.
~Sevensies: Bounce the ball against the wall by throwing it under your leg, and catch the ball. Do this seven times.
Since you are playing by yourself, you can make your own rules, but the way we played, if you made a mistake at any time, you had to start all over. You got bragging rights, and a few doubtful glances, when you told your friends you got all the way through Seven Up.
A, MY NAME IS ALICE
Basically, almost any rhyme that is used for jump rope can be used for ball bouncing games, too. We used A, My Name is Alice for both. The basic idea is to start with the letter A and go all the way through the alphabet. For each letter you will need to think quickly and give a girl’s name, boy’s name, city/state/country, etc, and an object that begins with the next letter of the alphabet.
Starting with all (A)s, you plug the (A) words into this chant while bouncing the ball rythmatically. If you hesitate or lose control of the ball, you start over.
A, my name is AMY, my husband’s name is ADAM, we live in ALBUQUERQUE and we sell APPLES.
B, my name is BRENDA, my husband’s name is BEN, we live in BALTIMORE and we sell BANJOS.
C, my name is CHELSEY, my husband’s name is CHAD, we live in COLORADO and we sell COMIC BOOKS.
Continue through the alphabet.