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Watch: How to Play Ultimate Kickball
The video is two and a half minutes, what are you waiting for?
Show it to your students ad free
- Replace the bowling pin with a large (empty) trash can or a small soccer net.
- Fielders cannot use their hands.
- Baserunners are out if they're off base when the bucket gets hit or knocked over.
Play with rounds of 2-4 minutes, then switch. If you're keeping score, try giving the defense points for every out they get.
I also like to have 3 teams, where one team rests. That way more people can make plays on the ball and (like interval training), they have periods of hard work followed by small bouts of rest. It keeps them working hard the whole time.
The Death of Analysis Paralysis
The hardest part of learning kickball (or baseball or softball) is not the actual physical skills but simply knowing what to do. Just listen to kids play. The biggest two barriers to enjoying the game are (a) knowing what to do when you get the ball on defense; and (b) knowing how and when to run bases on offense.
I created Ultimate Kickball to solve these problems and the results have been amazing. I've seen "top 10"-caliber plays from kids who would sit back and let others do all the work in a normal kickball game.
Pick Up the Pace
Let's stop pretending that the pace of base games (baseball, kickball, etc) is the least bit engaging. There is so much waiting in the game. It's like somebody was sitting in line in Chipotle and thought, "what if there was a game that was 90% this and 10% soccer/baseball."
Ultimate Kickball is designed to pick up the pace. Instead of playing to 3 outs or until everybody kicks, this game is played with timed rounds (2 minutes works great for me). For an even faster-paced game, give the fielding team points for every out they get. It encourages them to waste less time between kickers.
Set up is similar to a regular kickball game. Here are a few key differences:
- The Pin Zone - The yellow box in the middle of the infield (I make it about 10 feet across). In the middle of the Pin Zone is a bowling pin
- Inside, I use floor tape when possible, but when I can't, I'll use my nylon webbing (paid link) and these sand bags (paid link). I connect them using these carabiners (paid link). I use all three of these for so many things. Couldn't live with out them.
- Outside, I use the same equipment, but instead of the sandbags, I use these tent stakes (paid link).
- Kicking Spot (optional) - The green dot where Home Plate should be. I do this for safety in kickball and baseball games so that base runners can reach the final base without running into the next kicker.
- The Fielding Line - a line several feet in front of the Kicking Spot
- Depending on the number of players, I'll have some resting teams. I normally don't like to have kids sit around during class but this adds several benefits: (a) Small teams mean every player's role is important when kicking and fielding; (b) Like High Intensity Interval Training, they can bring a higher intensity to the game when they have had a chance to recover from fatigue; (c) They can watch other teams and strategize while resting. If I'm playing with resting teams, I'll do 2-minute rounds. If I'm playing with just two teams, we play to a certain number of outs.
Paid links to my setup equipment.
Game play is like normal kickball with a couple twists:
- When the ball is fielded, the only objectives are to catch the ball in the air or to knock down the pin to stop base runners. Any base runners off the base when the pin goes down are out.
- Fielders must follow the Ultimate Rule (like Ultimate Frisbee or Basketball, they cannot take steps with the ball). A traveling violation results in all base runners being safe.
- Fielders may not make a play on the pin from inside the Pin Zone. If they field the ball in the Pin Zone, the ball must be
- There is no limit to the number of baserunners on a base.
- I encourage teams to let all players throw at the pin and if they want to help, get on the opposite side of the pin. This way, players can make great throws at the pin and they have backup in case they miss.
- Put out markers (dots or tape) for various positions. Have the fielders start there every time the ball is kicked. If you really want to get carried away with it, number the positions and have the players move to the next number every time they come back to play defense.
Of course the game can be played as baseball, softball, or tee ball.
Putting the pin on top of a bucket or something taller will encourage appropriate throws (since you'll rarely want to throw the ball at the ground in baseball).
You could also play with a pitcher if you wanted to work on that skill as well.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Enjoy!
Bonus: Some More Almost-As-Awesome Kickball Games
NEVER ENDING KICKBALL (Also a story of how I lost my voice lol)