Bucket Ball

One of my favorite games for older players
3 buckets (we like those 5 gallon ones)
4 hula hoops
5 balls (we like using those funny "koosh" balls, but any ball that will fit in the hand, has weight enough for throwing is fine - nerf balls are perfect)

1. Set a hula hoop in the center of your playing field, place five balls in the center of the hoop.
2. Pace out 10 to 20 feet from the central hula hoop and place a hula hoop and bucket. (note, the closer the distance the faster the game)
3. Repeat this step two more times to form a triangle with the hula hoop and 5 balls as the center point.
4. Divide your group into 3 teams (with at least 2 on each team - the optimal number per team is 3 to 5) and have them stand behind their hula hoop.
5. Give each team member a number (1 through however many kids there are).

How to Play

1. On the referee's "go," the number 1 team member from each group runs into the center of the playing triangle and grabs a ball. The player then races back to their team, deposits the ball into the bucket (they must physically place the ball into the bucket themselves), and then races back to the center to try and get another ball. (Note - any ball taken from the center ring must be placed by hand into the bucket).
2. Once all the balls are removed from the center hoop, stealing and team work begins. The players on the field must now steal balls from other team buckets. Only one ball may be taken from any bucket at any time (no multiple ball stealing allowed). At this point, however, the players in the field may use their teammates by throwing the ball to their team members. If the ball falls short in the playing field, only a player may pick it up (yes, it can be picked up by a different team). Waiting team members are not allowed in the playing field.
3. Play continues until one team gets 3 balls into their bucket. That team is awarded 1 point.
4. The balls are replaced in the center, and team member 2 takes their turn.
5. Play continues until all team members have gone (if a large group) or when a specific number of points (say 5) is achieved.


1. Chalk or tape out the triangle playing zone - make this no man's land or radioactive territory - make the balls "food" and have an apocalyptic battle between surviving tribes.
2. Balls can be replaced with themed objects - such as beanbag fish for a shark attack variation.
3. Buckets can be replaced with themed objects-such as a volcano and the balls are the offerings to appease the "Volcano God." Simply wrap some fabric around the buckets to appear like a volcano.
4. The balls can represent something - such as uranium or plutonium for an army mission or science theme.
5. If you don't have big buckets, laundry baskets can do, empty cardboard boxes will work - anything that can hold the items and keep them from rolling away.
6. If you don't have hula hoops, chalk or tape down a line - you really only need this to define the playing area, and keep team members out of the playing field.
7. A soft playing field is recommended since the game is physical and falls sometimes occur.


Have one overall referee and one referee for each team. Play can get quite competitive so it's up to the refs to make sure that cheating is kept at bay.
Main rules to always reinforce.
1. No one other than the appointed player for each team is allowed on the playing field at any time for any reason.
2. Only one ball can be taken from any bucket at any given time, meaning the player make take a ball from team "B", but then must run to team "C" for their next ball.
3. Overthrows to team members are fine, but balls that fall within the playing area are only accessible to players in the field.
4. Dropped balls become fair game for any appointed player.
5. There is no guarding of buckets. Balls must be freely accessible for all appointed players.

Activity Length
15 - 30 minutes
Competitive (has winners and losers)

This is a total teamwork/strategy game.

Use your noodle! (challenging; focus required)
Mess Factor
Clean and tidy
Noise Level
Number of Players
5 to 10
10 to 20
Prep Time
5 minutes or less
Space Needed
Large (gym, outdoor field, reception hall)
Team Division
Teamwork! (divide into teams)