Since we’re all about fun outdoor games and want you to have the best summer ever, we’ve compiled this list of three classic group game ideas great for birthday parties, family reunions, and any other kind of get together.
This list includes the best outdoor games, how to play them, and suggestions for getting more people involved. The more, the merrier! Play with family, friends, or people you just met who will be your new best friends after you play together.
1. Classic Cornhole
Let’s start things off with a popular backyard game that is known and loved by many. Cornhole is a great game to set up at any summer event. It’s easy to set up, simple to learn and can be played by people of all ages and skill levels.
The setup from Caliber Games is top of the line. Built from varnished cabinet-grade wood with custom color options and decals available, it’s the standard to which all other Cornhole boards compare. That means you’ll enjoy a luxurious playing experience even if you’re not sinking many shots.
While it’s fun and casual, it can also get fairly intense. There are even professional Cornhole tournaments, including a circuit shown on ESPN that pays over $1 Million in prize money during a season.
The History of Cornhole
While the origins of cornholeare a bit hazy (some say 14th century Germany, others claim the Blackhawk Tribe in Illinois), there’s no question about its popularity.
It exploded sometime around 2011 when the New York Times declared the Midwest pastime to have swept over the entire northeast. It was popular in Cincinnati, where its beginnings as a tailgating staple began.
Now you can find cornhole at any football stadium parking lot in the country (assuming it's game day).
How to Play Cornhole
Typically Cornhole is played by four people at a time, in pairs. Players take turns tossing bean bags at the board. The goal is to land on the board or knock off one of your opponent's bean bags.
If you land a bag on the board, it’s worth one point. If you sink it in the hole, it’s worth three points. However, whatever shots you hit each round are canceled if your opponent makes the same shot.
The game is played to 21 points, alternating shots between you and a partner.
How to Play Cornhole with a Large Group
Usually, four players play at a time. However, you can get more people in on the action in different ways.
One simple way is to play winner stays on. Most of the time, groups default to this rotation method due to hanging around watching while the party commences. Who’s got next?
You can enter teams into a bracket-style tournament or have each pair play each other once in a round-robin format. Consider shortening the length of each game if people are waiting for a long time to play.
CROSSNET is a combination of four square and volleyball. Two awesome games mean twice the intensity and double the action!
It features a net in the shape of a plus sign and boundary markers to divide the playing surface into four even boxes. The net is adjustable between three heights to accommodate people of varying heights. You can set CROSSNET up easily on just about any surface. Some favorites are sand, grass, or an indoor gym.
The CROSSNET Bundle from Caliber Games is the first of its kind. It brings together the best aspects of both volleyball and four square, and it comes complete in a backpack carry case with a ball and pump.
How to Play CROSSNET
The game starts with the player in square four serving the ball diagonally to the player in square one. After that, the point is open, and the ball can be played to any square. If the ball is hit into the net, out of bounds, or if it drops in your square, you go back to square one (or to the back of the line).
You can keep track of your score or just play to see how long you can stay in the top spot before getting eliminated.
The player in square four starts the rally by serving diagonally to the player in square two. After the ball is served, it can be played to any of the other three squares. Hit it in the net, out of bounds, or let the ball drop in your square, and you go back to square one (or wait in the line).
How to Play CROSSNET with a Large Group
A good way to play CROSSNET with a large group is to have a line leading up to square one. Once you’re eliminated, you go to the back of the line. Do you remember playing foursquare this way in school?
Another way you can do it is to keep score and rotate after each game. Usually, only the person in the stop position can add points to their score when someone is eliminated.
A third option is to play timed rounds. This could be a good option for summer camps, for example, to ensure everyone gets a go at the exciting new game.
If you love Cornhole, darts, or any other game where accuracy is key, this summer might be your TowerBall summer. It’s perfect for casual play and intense competition alike. 360-degree gameplay means that large groups can spread out around the tower and play altogether.
TowerBall features a four-sided pyramid and eight hacky sack-style balls. Players take turns throwing the balls into varying-sized holes cut out of the four-sided pyramid. Side one has one big circle. Side two has two smaller circles. Side three has three even smaller circles, and side four has four small, challenging circles.
The pyramid is incredibly sturdy yet quick to set up and easy to transport in its backpack carrying case.
How to Play TowerBall
To play TowerBall, each player or team tosses four balls at each side, starting with side one with a single large circle. After side one, you move on to sides two, three, and four. Each ball that is made scores points corresponding to the difficulty of the shot. Side one earned one point per shot, side two earned two points per made shot, and so on.
A round is finished when both players or teams have shot four times at each target, for 16 shots per team per round and a maximum score of 40 points.
Figure out the technique that works best for you. Try arching it in there like a basketball shot. Underhand may be the way to go for you, or perhaps even throwing line drives like a baseball pitcher. Feel the touch and focus, and let it fly!
Why TowerBall is Great for Large Groups
TowerBall is an exciting option for all ages and skill levels. It works great for large groups because a bunch of people can play simultaneously. The 360-degree tower means everyone will gather around the game, watching, waiting their turn, and hanging out with one another.
Friendly competition is a fantastic way to share a fun activity, bring people together, and bond with others over something you enjoy. TowerBall not only serves as entertainment time and again but is an effective tool for team building, getting to know others, and getting the kids off the screens, out the door, and into the sunshine.
You can play TowerBall at a regulated pace, each team waiting for one another to gather the balls in between rounds. Or you can play a speed version of the game with teams shooting the balls at their own pace, quickly picking them up, and passing them to their next teams. Race to a certain score or until each target has been played.
You can also run a full-on tournament. Take a look at how to create your tournament using a bracket draw. Get a TowerBall championship tournament going the next time you invite people over for a backyard barbecue.
While Cornhole, CROSSNET, and TowerBall secured our top three spots, we wouldn’t feel right without mentioning a couple other options as well.
Simon Says allows a large group of people to play a game with only one rule: do what Simon says. Its mostly DIY format makes the game creative and fun, as one person acts as Simon and tells the rest of the group what to do (or not do).
Capture the Flag/Tug of War
Other outdoor party games like capture the flag or tug of war are more teamwork-based. These classics require coordination between team members, making them tougher to organize but often more engaging to play.
Of course, racing is another outdoor staple and can be a team thing or solo races. In obstacle courses and relay races, the winner is usually the first person or group to cross the finish line.
So what it'll it be this summer? Where are you going to run a big outdoor game, and which one will you choose? Cornhole is a reliable favorite that doesn’t disappoint. CROSSNET is a clever, dynamic combination of two all-time great outdoor games. TowerBall is a new tossing game that’s becoming a modern classic. Play any of these games, and you will have a blast in a sharing-friendly competition with others.
Whether you set up and play games in the backyard, at a park, or on the beach— anywhere you play the three games on this list is where people will be having a great time this summer.
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