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The best party games for your sports-loving kids

These best party games score big with sports lovers

kids playing soccer at a family reunion
Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Got a sport-loving kid with a birthday coming up? Hosting a sports themed birthday party for your kiddo is a super easy way to score a touchdown. Whether you’ve got a kickball fanatic or a budding soccer star on your hands, choosing the birthday party theme for your sports fan is a lot easier than scoring in a shootout. There are tons of sports party games that are a slam dunk.  You don’t have to stick to one sport either when choosing the activities for your little one’s big day. From soccer-themed games to kickball games to an Olympic theme, there are a ton of options for all your guests whether you are hosting indoors or out. Now, let’s hear the starting lineup for the best party games.

Sports party kickoff

Before we get to the best sports party games to knock it out of the park to celebrate your child’s special day, let’s not forget about the warmup. It’s a big part of any sport as all athletes know. So, a fun way to get all the kids excited about a sports-themed birthday party is to kick it off with a warmup.

Have an adult dress up as the coach and lead the kids in some useful and silly stretches. Play upbeat music to pump them up. The theme from Rocky is a timeless choice. Then, have the coach give the partygoers tips for the games ahead before concluding with an introduction with a cheer for the birthday guy or gal.

For an all-star intro, use crepe paper since it’s easier to break through and make signs for each child in attendance. Announce each child’s name and have a little prewritten bio about them as they tear through the paper just like in the big leagues.

A child getting a soccer ball for their birthday.
Freeograph / Shutterstock

Best sports party games

Hosting a sports-themed party is super simple. The key is to have a set game plan like any good coach. Set up teams beforehand and be sure to create them evenly. You don’t want all the athletic kids to end up on one team. Divide teams equally, mixing ages and abilities. You want the games to be fun and competitive whether your child’s entire soccer team makes up the party guest list or it’s all kids from school.

Having an adult on hand to be a referee along with extra hands to coach will make the party games run smoothly. Kids are less apt to argue or end up crying when the sports games are being overseen by adults. Draft older siblings to help out as coaches and refs as well as give a helping hand to partygoers who aren’t so comfortable at the plate.

Now, that we have a game plan, it’s time to get out on the field and have some fun with the best party games for a sports lover’s birthday.

Kickball

Kickball is a classic for a reason. It’s easy to set up in your yard or at a playground. Stick with the classics or mix it up. Kickball is also the perfect sports party game to play with kids of all ages. Even teens will come out to play a round of kickball.

For continuous kickball, have four balls and a large container. Place the container or bucket where the pitcher stands. You’ll need to set up an extra base by the home plate. One will be for kicking and the other will be for scoring. First, the team that will be kicking lines up at the kicking plate, and the pitcher rolls the first ball. Once the first ball is kicked, the kicker starts running the bases and the pitcher keeps pitching to the next player in line.

Simplify the game by putting only one base at the second-base mark. Instead of running all the bases, the kicker runs from home plate to the solo base and back home. The kicker is permitted to stay at the base if they need to during their play, but they have to run when their next teammate kicks.

Another good twist to traditional kickball is to add in an activity at each plate. These range from something simple like jumping jacks or push-ups to something a little more complicated like repeating a tongue twister or answering sports trivia questions.

If the kids aren’t in for kickball with a twist, stick to a traditional game and set up a tournament. A tournament works great if you have a big guest list.

Soccer games

Have each kid line up in front of a ball and kick the ball as far as they can one at a time. The farthest kick wins!

Dribble obstacle courses are perfect for outside. Separate the partygoers into two teams and have them dribble alongside one another down a line of cones. Once they finish dribbling, they kick the ball to the next team member. The first team to finish wins.

Soccer-loving kids love to scrimmage. So, set up two mini nets in the backyard and get the teams ready to take the pitch. You can have a backyard World Cup with each team taking the name of a country.

Ball toss

This sports party game works well for an outdoor party but can be adapted for indoors as needed. If you’re celebrating outside, use a large tarp or sheet and cut out holes with point values. The kids toss a football through the holes to score points. This works indoors with a smaller sheet and Ping-Pong balls.

Hot ball

This game is a mixture of hot potato and musical chairs. First, ask the guests to stand in a circle and toss a ball back and forth until the music stops. When the music stops, everyone freezes just like freeze dance. The player holding the ball when the music stops is out. Start the music slowly and increase the tempo as the rounds go on. Last one standing is the winner.

Water balloon baseball

Make sure to tell parents that their kiddos should bring bathing suits and towels to the party for this cool birthday party game. Fill up a bunch of water balloons and put them in a kiddie pool. Set up a baseball diamond and have the children hit the balloons with a wiffle ball bat. Three exploded balls in a row are a home run!

Obstacle course

Use pool noodles, hula hoops, and cones to set up an epic obstacle course in your backyard. For some added excitement for the players, incorporate kiddie pools at the end for a splashy finish.

A game of horseshoes set up outside in the grass.
Heinz Waha / Shutterstock

Best party games

If you’re planning a sports-themed birthday party, but don’t have a lot of space in your front or backyard, don’t worry. You don’t need to create an authentic soccer field or baseball diamond to play games that score big with the guests. There are super fun gym class-style party games you can play with the partygoers that don’t require a huge yard or a large indoor space. Many of these games are classics and can be played with items you may already have around the house like using those plastic Easter eggs for egg and spoon races. If not, you can always head to your local dollar store or Amazon to get what you need to put together these fun sports party games. Just remember to be hands on. Kids will have more fun if the games are structured with an adult or teen to keep the clock running and call penalties when needed.

  • Sack races
  • Bust the pinata
  • Tug-of-war
  • Egg roll
  • Egg and spoon race
  • Relay races
  • Bean bag toss
  • Jump the river
  • Sharks and minnows
  • Corn hole
  • Horeshoes
Soccer ball on a wooden shelf
Aphiwat Chuangchoem / Pexels

Head to the podium

When the game clock runs out, blow the whistle. It’s time for cleanup and a post-game snack. This is the perfect time to pass out cool drinks and sing Happy Birthday. Then, cut the cake. Once the kids are done with their game wrap-up, it’s time to head for the locker room or home. A fun way to hand out the goodie bags would be to create a podium. Just use step stools of varying sizes just like at the Olympics. Present each competitor with a goodie bag while playing music.

Having an athletic-themed birthday party complete with the best sports party games won’t be a blowout for the parents and the kiddos will have a blast. Whether your child is really sporty or is just really into gym class games, a sports-themed birthday party is sure to be a homerun for all.

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Natalie Ehrlich
Former Digital Trends Contributor
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