Pool Games


Take a clear, 2-liter bottle, remove the wrapper and fill it with pool water. Try to use a bottle with a white cap, or a cap of the same color as the floor tiles of the pool. Divide everyone into two teams and line them up, in the water, on opposite ends of the pool — facing away from the water. An adult, or one of the players, stands outside the pool and tosses the bottle in the water. When they hear the splash, the players turn around and try to find the bottle. Sounds easy, right? Think again! The clear bottle blends in and becomes almost invisible on the bottom of the pool. It’s a fun, challenging game for everyone!

Atomic Whirlpool

Have everyone get in the pool and line up single file along the edge with very little space between them. Have everyone walk for a couple of minutes, then jog another couple of minutes, then "run" around the edge another couple of minutes. If done right the water will "carry" them around the pool. Finally, tell them to turn around and go the other way. It is almost impossible to go against the current!

Basketball & Volleyball

Whether it’s one-on-one or team play, basketball and volleyball are even more fun when played in the pool. Residential pool games like these are specifically designed to stand up to the toughest competitors in a pool environment. Durable and well-designed games are anchored into the pool deck and will provide hours of active entertainment for years.


Choose a person to be "it". They stand in the middle of the pool. Players line up on one side of the pool and try and swim to the other side without being tagged. The players who are tagged hold hands with "it" and for the next round all the players holding hands try and tag the swimmers as they try and make it to the other end of the pool. Keep going until all players have been tagged - then choose another "it" and start again.

Dolphins & Sharks

Start the game by gathering everyone into the middle of the pool. Divide half the players into dolphins and the other half into sharks, leaving one player to be the leader. Designate one end of the pool as the dolphins' safe point and the other end as the sharks' safe point. When ready, the leader calls out either "dolphins" or "sharks." Whichever group you called has to quickly swim away to their safety point while their opponents chase them, trying to tag as many as possible. Throughout the game, randomly call out either team. Any player tagged has to join the enemy team. The game ends when all players have become part of one team.

Frozen T-Shirt Contest

Dunk 2 shirts in water and freeze for 2-3 days. During your event, take the shirts out and divide your friends into 2 groups. Each group is racing to thaw and put on the shirt. You can use anything in the yard to thaw it: hose, pool, slam it on the pavement, use your hands, breath on it, etc. Every 15 seconds you switch the person thawing the shirt. Have someone shout out "switch" ever 15 seconds. The first one team to thaw it and puts it on one of their teammates wins.


This is a modified version of freeze tag. Define a playing area where everyone can stand with his or her head above water. One person is it and tries to tag the other players. If a player is tagged, he or she must stand frozen like a popsicle (with hands straight in the air) until another player thaws him or her by swimming between his or her legs. A player cannot be tagged while underwater. After a minute or two, have someone else be it and continue the game until everyone has had a chance to be on the offensive.

Bumper Balls

Using a rope, section off a small area of the pool. Have all the players hop into that section, each holding onto a beach ball. On the count of three, the players all use their beach balls as a means to bump the other players into the rope, as if they're playing bumper cars. Anyone who touches the rope has to leave the pool. Keep playing until only one bumper remains in the pool, thereby winning the game.

Pool Tag Survivor

One person is "it." They call out either "dolphin," "froggy," or "submarine." Dolphin has to swim on top of the water. Froggy has to swim in the middle. Submarine has to swim at the bottom of the pool. "It" has to close their eyes and try to tag the others. When a player gets to the other end, they yell, "Survived!" If they get tagged they are it. The more people the better.

Wet T-Shirt Relay

This game starts out like any other relay race. Two teams are created, and half of each team lines up on opposite ends of the pool. So what makes this relay race different? The wet T-shirt! The starting player for each team is given a soaking wet T-shirt. The players put the T-shirt on, completely — then jump in, swim across the pool, climb out, take off the shirt and hand it to the next player on the team. The first team to get everyone across the pool in the T-shirt wins.

Duck Push

If you have a swimming pool and lots of people together, throw in a couple of rubber ducks, and you can play Duck Push. Here’s how it works:

Put 3-4 players at one end of the pool and give them one rubber duck apiece. When you say go, they must use their nose to push the duck to the other end of the pool. They can also “blow” the duck forward; they just can’t bite the duck and swim to the other end with it in their mouths. Nor can they touch their duck with their hands or feet.

Further, the players can “distract” the other players by splashing water in their faces or splashing water toward their ducks to knock them backward. They just can’t actually TOUCH the other players or the other players’ ducks.

The first one to get his duck to touch the other end of the pool (obeying the rules) is the winner.

Watermelon Push Relay

Funny relay race for individuals or teams. Players must push a watermelon from one end of the pool to the other without touching the bottom of the pool with their feet.

Crocodile Hunter

Purchase some large plastic lightweight rings or hula-hoops and one or two inflatable crocodiles. Set them adrift in the pool and line up kids in the shallow end. Let each player take a timed turn trying to capture the croc by "ringing" its head or tail. Once someone snares the reptile, he or she should climb onto its back and race to land (designate one end of the pool as the place to store captured crocs before they are sent off to the leather factory).

Whoever completes the stunt in the least amount of time, wins. This game can be even more amusing if kids verbalize what they are doing. You can even subtract a few seconds from a player's time if he or she can imitate an Australian accent.

Noodle Joust

Select 2 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. The winner takes on the next player.

This game works best with younger kids. Start by picking one player to be the leader and another player to be the watcher. All the players hop into the pool and line up with the leader in front. The leader then swims in whatever fashion she likes; anything from swimming under water to doing a back-stroke. All the other players have to mimic exactly what she does. The watcher, who stands looking from outside the pool, eliminates any players she sees who are not mimicking. Keep playing until only one player remains. He becomes the new leader.

Numbers Crunch

Divide the players into two teams and have each team line up on opposite sides of the pool with a plastic bucket. Then scatter about 25-30 numbered ping-pong balls around the pool. The numbers represent the point values for each ball. With an On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! both teams jump in and try to retrieve the balls and place them into their team's bucket.

The catch is that players are allowed to retrieve only one ball at a time. When all of the balls have been collected, each team adds up the numbers on their balls to determine their score. The team with the highest score wins. This game can be made more interesting by allowing teams to win extra points for collecting sets of consecutive numbers.

Ping Pong Scramble

Players form a large circle in the pool and scramble to collect ping pong balls and place them in their container. Dump a large container of ping pong balls in the middle of the players circle. Whoever collects the most balls wins! Have them collect them in different colored laundry baskets or buckets that are placed on the edge of the pool. Variation: Before the party use permanent markers to give each ping pong ball a point value. The team with the highest score wins. Or place a small colored dot on each ball in different colors. Teams must only collect the balls with their color.

Splash Dance

Have individuals or teams choreograph water ballets to their favorite pop songs. Suggest using waterproof props and costumes to make the "show" more creative. Then invite family, friends and neighbors over to watch the premiere. An evening show complete with lots of pool lights and spotlights can make a dramatic presentation. If the kids would like to compete, make up different performance categories, such as funniest, most original, etc., so that each child or team can win.

Belly Flop Contest

Nothing brings everyone together quite like a belly flop contest. Get your contestants, find a prize for the winner, and have the audience judge by applause. Please ALWAYS exercise caution when jumping off the side of a pool.

Scavenger Hunt

Pick a variety of items, and throw two of each into the pool — make sure they’ll sink and that they’re not sharp or made of glass. Divide everyone into two teams and shout, “go”. Each team has to collect one of each item from the bottom of the pool. The first team to collect them all wins.

Croc Wrestling

Get a big inflatable croc and choose 3 volunteers who will each have 60 seconds, by themselves, to do the best show of croc wrestling in the pool. Give points for creativity, death rolls, etc.

Water Hoops

Buy a poolside basketball hoop or improvise with a plastic trash can. If you have two hoops, you can play "full court"; otherwise, just play "half court" games. You might want to have a rule that players can only hold onto the ball for five seconds before they have to either shoot or pass.

Cardboard Boat Race

Supply teams with large cardboard boxes, packaging tape, colored paper, markers and stickers, and allot them one hour to build the best seaworthy boat.

Note: An adult should be on hand with scissors to cut the boxes. To add to the fun, encourage creativity in design and decoration, and, of course, every boat must have a name. Each team (one member at a time) must race the boat from one end of the pool to the other side and back again, using his or her arms as oars. The team that does this in the fastest time wins. If the boats are not sturdy enough to be raced, the contest can be based on which boat stays afloat the longest.

Floatie Race

For this game, you’ll need two or more people, and two floaties of any kind — as long as they’re big enough to sit on. Two players line up on their floaties at one end of the pool and, on “go”, race to the other end. First one there wins. This game works best in a longer pool, and can also be played as a relay race with two teams.

Marco Polo

Marco Polo is a simple game that can be played with two or more players. To play, choose one player to be “it”. That person closes his or her eyes, or is blindfolded, and counts to a certain number (you pick!). While the “it” person counts, the other players scatter around in the pool. When the count is over, the “it” player tries to tag the other players, using only the sound of their voices to find them. The “it” player calls out “Marco”, and the other players call out “Polo”. When the “it” player tags another, that player becomes the “it” person and the game starts over again.

F - I - S - H

Just like the basketball game P-I-G or H-O-R-S-E, the first player performs a task that the others must repeat. For example, if the first player does a handstand in the water, the other players take turns attempting handstands, too. If someone cannot perform the task, he or she earns the first letter in the word fish.

Whoever "spells" fish first, loses. To keep things fair, you may want to make a rule that players can only select a particular task once so that someone doesn't keep repeating tasks that no one else can do. You might also need an objective judge to determine whether one's stunt earns him or her a letter.