Kickball Games and Variations

Girl playing kickball game
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Kickball games are popular at many school playgrounds and at summer camps, and leagues for adults are becoming popular too. Part of kickball's appeal is its simplicity: It's very easy to learn and play. But if you or your kids are getting a little tired of playing the usual way, you can always change up the rules—or try one of these alternative options.

For most of these, just as in regular kickball, you should set basic rules before you play: How many outs until the kicking team is retired? Where is the foul territory (or is any kick fair)? How many innings will you play? and so on.

Kickball Game 1: Continuous Kickball

For this high-energy version, you need four balls and a large bucket or tote to put them in. Station it where the pitcher will stand. You also need an extra base to act as a second home plate. You will have one for kicking and one for scoring. The kicking team lines up at its plate and the pitcher rolls the first ball. As soon as it's kicked, the kicker starts running the bases and the pitcher must pitch to the next player in line.

There are no outs because the fielding team is busy retrieving the balls and getting them back to the pitcher's bucket. If it's time to pitch and there are no balls available, the kicking team gets an extra point. Once all the kickers in the line have kicked, then their turn is over and they become the fielding team.

Kickball Game 2: Big Base

Your kids may play this in the gym at school, using gym mats as bases (hence the name "Big Base"). On your own, you can play outdoors if you have a large enough playing area. Use chalk or small orange cones to delineate your big bases (about 4 feet by 4 feet).

Play is similar to regular kickball, except runners can cluster on the big bases. If it isn't safe for them to advance, they can stay put. You can require runners to circle the bases twice before scoring, either two laps around or one lap counterclockwise and one clockwise. Or in a variation on the variation, play "crazy style." Players run from home to first base, then third base, then second, then back to home plate.

Kickball Game 3: Kick-Basketball

You need a basketball hoop for this version (at a playground, in a gym, or at home in your driveway). The kicker stands under the hoop and the pitcher rolls the ball to them (as in classic kickball). Once they kick, they start running the bases while the defense recovers the ball. But once a defensive player has the ball, they try to shoot a basket. If they sink it, the kicker is called out. If they miss, the kicker is safe on base.

Kickball Game 4: Line Kickball

Instead of splitting into two equal teams, start this game with just one pitcher. Everyone else is the kicking team—for now. They all line up, single file, at home plate. Once the first person in line kicks the ball, everyone (except the pitcher) starts running the bases. They must tag each base, but can't remain on base. They must continue running around the bases and toward home plate.

Once the pitcher recovers the ball, they can tag runners out by throwing the ball. Anyone who is out then becomes an outfielder and starts helping the pitcher. If you like, you can make a rule that only the pitcher can actually tag a runner out; the outfielders can only recover the ball and throw it to the pitcher.

Once the last person in the kicking line has rounded home plate, start again with a new kicker at the front of the line.

Kickball Game 5: No-Pitch

This is like the T-ball version of kickball. Instead of a tee, place the ball directly on the home plate. Play starts when the kicker kicks the ball into the field. If the defensive team catches the ball in the air, it's an out. But if they miss, or the ball is a grounder, the fielders must recover the ball, then roll it back toward home plate. Their catcher grabs it and places it back on the plate. As soon as the ball hits the plate, any runner who isn't on a base is out.

Kickball Game 6: Activity Kickball

Play this game just like the classic, with one exception: At each base, give the runner a fitness task or activity to complete: Hop on one foot, say a tongue-twister, do a push-up. They have to do the task in order to remain safely on base.

Kickball Game 7: One Base

Streamline the field with this variation: You just need one base, plus home plate. Put the base where second base would normally be. In order to score a run, the kicker has to run from home plate to the base and back home. They can stay at the base if they need to (to avoid being tagged out), but they have to run when their next teammate kicks.

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