Pool Party Games & Activities

Although providing a pool and some food is usually enough to provide for your visiting guests, activities such as pool games and activities can really add to the party. Following are some pool games and activities to add excitement to your party:

The Classics

Marco Polo—An oldie, but a goodie! But just in case you forgot how to play it—here it is:Choose someone to be “it”. They close their eyes and try and tag the other players. Whenever the person who is “it” calls out “Marco”, the players must answer "Polo". If "it" tags a player then that player becomes "it". If you allow players to get out of the pool while playing the game then if "it" calls out "Fish out of water!" and there is someone outside the water then that person becomes "it".

Steal the Bacon—Form 2 teams of an equal amount of players and each team numbers off. Each team sits at the opposite end of the pool. A non-player then throws a ball (nerf, tennis, or ping pong balls work well) to the middle of the pool and calls a number belonging to a member of each team. The players whose numbers were called race to retrieve the ball and take it to their side of the pool without being caught by the other player. A player successfully returning the ball to his side receives 2 points and a player successfully catching the opponent receives 1 point. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Tag Games

Sharks and Minnows - This game is good for a large group. One person is the shark and starts in the middle of the pool. All other players are minnows and start out of the water on one side of the deck. The shark yells out "minnow!" and the minnows must jump in and try to swim to the other side of the pool without being tagged by the shark. The minnows that get tagged become sharks and the game is replayed until only one minnow remains. That person starts the new game as the shark.

Towel Tag—All players place a towel or any other item that can be balanced on their head. One person is designated as the chaser. The chaser attempts to tag the other players. Whoever is tagged becomes the new chaser. If a player loses the towel that is balanced on their head while being chased, that player becomes the new chaser.

Chicken Fight Tag—This is also called horse and rider tag. Player’s pair up and ride piggyback. One pair is designated the chaser. Only the rider can be tagged or can tag. The chaser pursues other pairs until a rider is tagged, then they become the new chaser.

Shark-Shark!—You have probably played this game, but it is still a good one. One participant is the shark and gets in the middle of the pool, while the other participants get on the other end of the pool. When the shark yells out “Shark-Shark”! all other participants must get to the other side of the pool without being tagged by the shark. Tagged participants become sharks. The last remaining participant is the winner.


Chicken Fight Races—This is also called horse and rider races. Player’s pair up and ride piggyback. All participants are lined up on one end and race. The team reaching the finish line first wins.

Leap Frog Race—This was played by most everyone in PE classes in elementary school and is probably even more fun in a pool. The teams line up, and the last players in line are the frogs. The other participants get in a crouched position with their hands on their thighs or knees. The frogs then jump over each teammate in front of them and then become crouched. The last person in the line then becomes the frog. This is continued until the end of the pool is reached, with the team reaching the end first winning the race.

Innertube Race - This is fairly self-explanatory. Each participant sits in an innertube at one end of the pool; someone says go and the participants race to the other end of the pool.

Ping-Pong Race—We have all played games similar to this one, but probably not in the pool. For this race, players line up at one end of the pool with a ping pong ball. The goal is to blow the ping pong ball, without touching it, to the other end of the pool. The player whose Ping-Pong ball reaches the end of the pool first wins.

Floating Ball Pick-Up Race—This game is played on top of the water using floating objects such as Ping-Pong balls or tennis balls. It is important to have several dozen of these balls. It is best to mark the balls so that they represent different point totals. Someone puts all of the balls in the pool. When the race begins, participants try to get as many balls in a predetermined short amount of time. When the time is up, add up the balls or point totals, document the score, and continue playing several rounds until someone reaching the predetermined point total is declared the winner.

Scuba relay–Gather two sets of scuba gear (flippers, snorkel, and mask) and form two teams.At the word “go!”, the first player on each team puts on her team’s gear, jumps into the pool, swims to the other side and back, gets out of the water, and removes the gear. Then the next player does the same. The first team to finish wins. This game can also be done with t-shirts, shorts, and socks.

Sport Games

Volleyball—Volleyball games are available at Gohlke Pools. Some pool owners purchase a regulation net and anchor it to fence posts, trees, etc. allowing the net to cross over the pool. Either way, it is a great game for larger groups.

Basketball—Basketball goals are available at Gohlke Pools. This game is better for small groups.

Baseball—Typically it is played in the shallow end of the pool with bases being approximately 10’-15’ apart. Typically, a ball hit out of the far end of the pool is a homerun.

Football—This game is self-explanatory and is also quite fun.

Miscellaneous Activities

Noodle jousting—Select two players to sit on a blow up raft in the middle of the pool. Give each one a pool noodle and have them joust with the noodles and try and get each other off the raft.

Frozen T-Shirt Contest—This is a really entertaining game. Freeze two shirts in zip lock bag. During
the party take the shirts out and divide the attendees into two groups. Each group is racing to thaw and put on the shirt. You can use anything in the yard to thaw it: hose, pool, hands, etc. Every 15 seconds you switch the person thawing the shirt. The first one team to thaw it and puts it on one of their teammates wins.

While enjoying your pool party games and activities, remember that pool safety should always be a concern. Many drownings and accidents occur during parties. Children are often ignored while parents socialize. It might be a good idea to either hire a lifeguard or have parents take shifts being the pool monitor (even provide a whistle and a list of pool rules if you feel it is necessary).

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