As we learned earlier, team sports are great for teaching kids about strategy, teamwork, and social interaction. Add some water and see how quickly they learn how much fun summer can be!
To include little kids in the game, have them team up with the big kids. For example, a big kid and a little kid will make a great two-person Octopus!
To play Water Basketball (or as some like to call it, “Splashketball”), you may have to invest a little money in the equipment. Head to your local pool supply store and see if they have any inexpensive water basketball equipment. You'll need a basketball hoop suitable for the poolside and an aquatic basketball. I've seen the sets priced anywhere from $200 to $600, but shop around and you might be able to find something a little cheaper.
If your family is really into it and you think they'll play, then invest in a good set—it'll be hours of outdoor fun. The good sets are made of heavy-duty plastic and can be filled with water to keep them from tipping over.
You can also try to construct your own water basketball hoop—all you need is a piece of plywood that can be anchored down with sand bags, and a hoop and some netting. It might not be pretty, but it'll do the trick. For the ball, try using any kind of large aquatic ball—they'll have plenty at the local pool supply.
If you have enough players, form two teams. The goal is to shoot the ball into the hoop. For every shot, the team scores 1 point. If you make a clean shot without passing to another player first, you score 2 points. You can either give the game a time limit or play to a certain number of points. You can use just one basketball hoop if you don't want to buy or make another. If you're up for it and want to spend the money, get two nets and place them at opposite ends of the pool for a more realistic game.
For a real challenge, put the hoop in the deep end; you'll laugh forever as you watch players try to shoot a hoop as they disappear underwater.
You can also play Water Basketball with two people. Just shoot hoops the way you would in your own driveway or at a local gym. Each player takes a turn making a clean shot a certain distance away from the net. If you get the ball in without hitting the sides of the hoop, you score 2 points; if the ball goes through on a rebound, you score 1 point. The first player to reach 21 points wins. You should play to a 2-point lead. So if the score is 20-20, you will have to score 22 points to win.
You can buy the gear for Water Volleyball for very little money. If you shop on the Internet, you'll find the net and ball for as low as about $40. If you go to a local pool supply or toy store, you may find it for even less. What you should have is a net that sits about 5 feet above the water. It will come with poles that can be anchored down with sandbags.
You'll also need an aquatic ball that can bounce off your fingertips the same way a regular volleyball would. You can use any ball that will float on the water as long as it is waterproof and not too hard on the hands. If you don't want to invest in the net, you can play without one, but you'll still have to go out and buy the ball! You can use a pool divider to mark the teams' sides or a piece of rope that you can run across the pool. Just make sure that the players hit the ball high enough—as though they were playing a regular Volleyball game.
Here's the game in a nutshell: Have both teams form two lines on each side of the pool—try not to put one side in the deep end! You'll need enough shallow end for both teams. If you don't have that many people, just stagger the players on their respective sides, so that the team is covering enough pool space to hit the ball. The person in the back row on the right serves the ball. It must go over the rope and onto the opposition's side of the pool. The ball should be volleyed back and forth until one team misses. Only the serving team can score. You cannot volley the ball within your own team more than three times, and no player may hit the ball more than once consecutively. Give the game a time limit or play to a certain number of points.
For a twist, play the whole game in the deep end … you'll never get a better workout than keeping your head above water while trying to hit that ball.