Summer Games For Kids: How To Play Wiffle Ball

You field a team, you run the bases, and you score runs. What makes wiffle ball special?

You score runs by getting a clean hit that lands (and stops) in one of the marked areas. They can’t leave that area, but they can snag any balls in it. It’s got so much going for it between the family and team bonding opportunities, the skill learning, and ultimately just the fun of throwing, fielding, and batting these crazy balls. Set up foul lines, a strike zone (a piece of marked cardboard can help), and field markers for a single, double, triple, and home run. It gives the game a little more organized feel, and they’re really not that pricey of an accessory for the value they bring.

Game variations

There are quite a few ways to play a game of wiffle ball. These balls have oblong holes going around the top of the ball only. Other variations have holes covering the entire ball, and often the holes are a perfectly circular shape. But if you love softball, the twelve-inch varieties are your best bet. 

The wiffle ball bat

The original yellow plastic bat is a classic. If you can catch up to a fly ball (in fair or foul territory) or a moving ground ball in fair territory, you can snag it for an out, no matter where on the field. Pitch the ball, hit the ball, move runners forward, and get the batter out. And when hit in the air, they can take some unusual twists and turns. 

It’s pretty safe for young ones: Baseballs and baseball bats can be dangerous in young hands. All you need is some basic equipment and you are set!

Wiffle balls

I’m a fan of the original wiffle balls, though there are variations out there. It’s the only wiffle ball bat you need, no matter kid or adult. The fact that you can pick up and play just about anywhere adds to it too. I’ve found that the original balls allow for more spin and tricks with the ball when pitching, and it does more interesting things in the air when hit. And a whole lot of fun!

When I was a child, there was no game I loved more than wiffle ball. For most wiffle ball game variations, you have the exact same goals as in baseball. There are lots of ways to play (well beyond the official rules), it’s cheap to set up, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s an outside game so everyone can enjoy the beautiful sunny weather. Proceed with caution.

I also prefer the nine-inch balls to the twelve-inch wiffle balls. But, my friends and I loved this variation when we were kids. A single gets a runner on base. Essentially you are moving imaginary runners around the diamond. A double or triple will clear the bases. It can be a lot of fun (and great baseball and softball training) just to throw the ball, swing the bat, and field without keeping score. Your child could even play on his or her own using a wiffle ball machine like the one below.

The “it’s just like baseball” variation

A lot of warm weather good times to be had

So if you’re considering your options for cool summer games for kids around your neighborhood, here’s a vote for giving wiffle ball a shot. But of course, no person can be passed the home run marker, unless you’re just a family onlooker cheering on the game!

This is a great way for a small team (even two people) to play a base running version of the game. Outs are earned by striking out, catching a ball in the air, or grabbing a ground ball while it’s still in motion. There is no running of the bases, only pitching, hitting, and outs. Outs are scored by striking out, a defender catching a fly in fair or foul territory, but with a ground ball, there needs to be a tag or a force out (touch a base before a runner who is forced to move gets to it, due to a hit). 

This one is not for everyone. In fact, as far as summer games for kids go, I’d say this one ranks up there in terms of fun, exercise, and family-bonding potential. Plus, the balls are hollow and light, so it’s nearly impossible for them to do major damage to things they hit.

A game can work with two people or eighteen people: This is a summer kid’s game that can be just as fun one-on-one as against a team. 

The balls are fun to throw, hit, and catch: The holes in the balls allow you to throw some amazing “junk” pitches with lots of curves and sliding action. It’ll also score any runners already on second or third. Then get to pitching and hitting! 

Easy to set up. It’s great for getting summer time exercise for the kids. There are no walks as wiffle balls can be tough to control. 

Just for kicks

The offical (or close to it) wiffle ball game

This is great for two players, but there can be as many as five per team. Wiffle ball equipment is more like plastic lightweight toys in comparison.

It’s great baseball or softball training: If your child has shown interest in these sports, wiffle ball is a great low impact place to start. 

The equipment you need

As mentioned, it’s pretty cheap to get a wiffle ball set up going. But again, it adds to the play risk. Here you’ll learn the basics of what you need to know (and have) to get a good game of wiffle ball going. 

There are three outs per side. A double will move an imaginary runner on first to third. Easy to play. If you can hit the runner in the torso area (no head, no legs) while the runner is circling the bases, then the runner is out. 

You can play at a moments notice: No need for finding gloves and protective gear, getting a team together, and getting to a field. 

You can play in the country or in a more urban setting: Wiffle balls and bats were designed to make sure the balls don’t travel too far when hit or pitched. Here are a few, but feel free to make up your own house rules, too:

Technically you don’t need to have any ruled game surrounding your play time. They are easier for kids to hold and throw, and they are a bit more challenging to hit. Plus, who doesn’t love the bright, fun color? It just feels like summer. 

Throw down bases

While not a necessity (you can use landmarks, stones, and other natural markers), many people like using throw down bases. If there are more than two players, you can place one person in each designated marker area. If you’ve got young baseball fans in the family, this is a great game to share with them.

When one on one, you’ve got the entire field as the defender. If you don’t like the idea of your kids throwing wiffle balls at someone running the bases, just ignore this one. Foul tips are strikes, except for the third strike (just like in baseball), and balls that aren’t swung at, but hit your strike marker are strikes as well. 

Why not just play baseball or softball you may be asking? Those can be fun summer games for kids too, but there’s a lot of cool things about wiffle ball that place it in a class all its own. 

The title says it all. It’s light, easy to swing, and durable. I had a few wiffle balls to the head in my day, though I should say I think I’m pretty ok from it.. Really, it’s the same as the baseball variation above, but you can get someone out through a well-aimed throw at the runner. This is a game that works just as well at a group picnic or an empty basketball court, as it does in your own backyard. 

What is wiffle ball?

The thrown ball tag variation

Well, simply put–it’s like baseball but with a hollow plastic bat and plastic balls made with unique (and often oblong) holes. A home run is, well, a home run. I suggest fifteen feet per each of these markers, starting from home plate

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