12 Fun Ways to Play With a Hula Hoop

With all the outdoor games and toys kids have to choose from, something as simple as a hula hoop might seem a little low-tech or outdated—but that's half the fun. This classic toy doesn't require much beyond a kid's physical energy and willingness to experiment with how to keep the hula hoop in motion. Hula hoops are also inexpensive and straightforward to use (once you get the hang of them).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends kids get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and hula hoops can be a fun part of meeting that requirement. Playing with a hoop also burns calories, strengthens muscles, and improves coordination at any age. Try these hula hooping activities to get started.


Variations on the Classic Spin

Hula hoop games - the classic spin
Paul Bradbury / Caiaimage / Getty Images

Grab some hula hoops and head outside with your kids. Challenge each other to see who can master spinning the hoop around their waist. While this trick is one of the basics, it takes practice to master.

Once you've got the hang of it, encourage each other to try something fancier: Shift the hoop up and down your neck, or get a pair of hoops and see if you can whirl one on each arm at the same time.


Hoop Targets

Set your hoops on the ground or prop them upright against a wall or tree to use them as targets for beanbags, water balloons, or foam darts. Want something a little more challenging? Use a rope to hang the hoop from the beam of a playset or a tree branch to create a moving target.


Up, Down, Under, Over

If you have a group, give this classic game a go. Have three or four kids stand inside a large hoop that they hold up at waist level without using their hands. Then, challenge them to wiggle the hoop up their necks or down their ankles (again, no hands). You can also have them try to move as a group from inside the hoop to outside without letting it touch the ground.


Roll Along

For centuries, kids have been using sticks to roll upright hoops along the ground. For a modern take on hoop rolling, have your child see how far they can roll a hoop with a stick or their hand before it falls over.

Once they get the hang of hoop rolling, draw a line with chalk and challenge them to trace the path with the hoop. For an added challenge, put up obstacles (such as small traffic cones, plastic bowling pins, or even lawn chairs) or devise a clever maze for them to navigate.



You'll need several hoops for this game. Lay each hoop on the ground in a pattern your child can hopscotch through. You can also arrange two parallel rows of hoops for kids to race through like a tire run.


Hoop Home Base

No matter which version of tag you choose to play, you can use hula hoops as a home base or designated safe zone. Just make sure everyone agrees on the hoop home base rules. For example, decide that a player can only stand in a hoop for a count of 10, no more than one or two players per hoop at a time, and so on.


Giant Ring Toss

Place two hoops about eight feet apart (you might have to adjust the distance depending on players' ages and skills). Give each child one or two beanbags. The goal is to toss their beanbags into their opponent's hoop while at the same time preventing their opponent's bags from landing in their own hoop. They can use their hands, feet, or any other part of their body to deflect the incoming beanbags.

With a little more planning and a safety-first mindset, you can even play a human version of ring toss. Have one kid put on a bike helmet and stand still inside a hoop base. The other players can then take turns trying to toss a hula hoop over the human target from a predetermined spot.

Each kid can have a turn donning the helmet. Make the game more challenging by increasing the distance of the starting point for the toss with each round.


Hoop Jump Rope

No jump rope? No problem! Show your kid this neat hooping trick.

Stand with the hoop vertically in front of your body, then flip it down toward your feet. Next, jump over it, bringing it back behind you, then over your head and back to where you started. To avoid skinned knees, have your kid try this on soft ground first in case they stumble.


Pass the Hoop

This hula hoop game is great for picnics, recess, or birthday parties where you have a whole group of attendees. Have everyone hold hands and stand in a line or circle. To start the game, loop the hoop over a player's arm. From there, the rest of the group must pass the hoop down the line or around the circle without letting go of each other's hands.


Throw a Hoop Up High

"Up High" sounds simple, but this trick is harder than it looks. Have kids take turns tossing a hula hoop straight up in the air with the goal of catching it on the way down. Just remember to put everyone's safety first. Onlookers may want to stand clear while your kids try to master this one.


Spin Challenge

Put your group's basic hula hooping skills to the test with this game. Gather enough hula hoops for each contestant. Set a timer and challenge everyone to keep their hula hoop going. Whoever is the last one with a hula hoop in motion wins.

You can also play this using a competition bracket. Have kids go head-to-head, with the winners of each round competing against each other until a final hula hoop marathon champion is crowned. You can vary the game by requiring different skills each round, such as moving the hoop up and down the body.


Hula Hoop Relay

For this game, set up two side-by-side racecourses. Set up several hula hoop challenges along each one. Possibilities include obstacles to go around or over with a hula hoop in hand and designated spots to roll your hula hoop a certain distance, jump rope with it, spin it around the waist for 15 seconds, and/or set it down and hop two-footed in and out of it 10 times.

Next, divide your group into two even teams and give each one a hula hoop. Have someone do a practice run of the course so that everyone knows what to do. The relay race begins when the first players on each team begin running the course. They will go up and back before passing the hoop to their next teammate. The first team to have each member successfully complete the course wins.

2 Sources
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  1. U.S, Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

  2. Smithfield B. Hoop rolling: A classic game which dates back to the 5th century BC. The Vintage News.

By Catherine Holecko
Catherine Holecko is an experienced freelance writer and editor who specializes in pregnancy, parenting, health and fitness.