22 best games for hours of fun in the pool

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  August 16

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Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Looking for new games to try at your next pool party?

You have come to the right place. Check out our list of 24 fun pool games you can try today.

Best games for the pool

One of the funniest things I've come across is this Watermelon BallI've never seen anything like this:

Watermelon ball pool toy

(view more images)

You fill it with water instead of air so that it stays underwater and you can throw it there. You just have to look, very special to see.

Here are the best pool games that you can play without extra toys:

22 best pool games

From volleyball and tag to races and team challenges, there is something for everyone:

Atomic vortex

How To Play:

  • Tell the kids to get into the pool and line up along the edge of the pool
  • First, tell the children to walk around the edge of the pool
  • After about 30 seconds of walking, have them jog around the edge of the pool now
  • Have them start running after about 30 seconds of jogging. At this point there should be a strong current pulling them along.
  • Tell the players to stop and walk in the other direction. It's almost impossible to move against the current!

Tip:: The more children you have, the stronger the vortex. This is a great board game (reviewed some family games here) so everyone at the campsite can participate!

Basketball and Volleyball

What you need:

  • A volleyball or a basketball
  • A net or a ring

How To Play:

Whether one-on-one or as a team, games such as basketball and volleyball are even more fun when played in the pool.

The best part is that your games can be as organized (or not) as you want.

Divide kids into two teams (or play as a couple) and keep score, or just let them enjoy hitting the ball and throwing it through the ring.

Either way, these games provide hours of active fun.

Tip:There are also special pool nets and rings that you can use.

Intex is, for example, a supplier of high-quality swimming pool sports equipment:

En Aquaz Sports has handy basketball rings for the pool:

Match bomb

How To Play:

Each player takes a dip in the pool and shows their biggest, loudest and most clumsy bomb.

The diver who gets the most applause (or laughter) for his bombshell wins!

Tip: Safety first! Always be careful when diving or jumping into the pool.

Balls colliding

What you need:

  • A beach ball
  • A rope or cord

How To Play:

  • Lay the rope over part of the pool
  • Hand each child a beach ball and put them all on the same side of the rope
  • When you say 'Go', the kids use their beach balls to bump into each other to get each other into the rope.
  • Any player who touches the rope is out. The last player in the pool wins!

Cardboard boat race

What you need:

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Scissors
  • Packing tape
  • Colored paper
  • Markers and stickers

How To Play:

Divide players into teams and give them an hour to use the above supplies together to build their best, most seaworthy cardboard boat.

Encourage teams to get creative and make sure every boat is given a name!

Have the teams put their boats in the pool when the time is up. The boat that floats the longest wins!

Tip:: Again, safety first! If you are playing this game with younger children, make sure there is an adult around to help the cardboard het cut (when can they actually do that themselves?).

Crocodile Hunter

What you need:

  • Hula hoops (one per player)
  • Inflatable crocodiles

How To Play:

  • Blow up the crocodiles and release them in the pool
  • Give each player a hula hoop
  • The object of the game is to catch the crocodile by going from its head to its tail and “catching” it all the way with the hoop (the legs will often be nice and tricky!)
  • Once someone gets the reptile, they have to climb onto its back and race to the shallow end of the pool.
  • Whoever completes the stunt in the shortest time wins. Bonus points for the best Australian accent.

Tip: More fun with inflatable crocodiles

Do you want more bang for your inflatable crocodile?

Hold a Croc Wrestling Match: Give each player a minute to show off their best, most impressive croc wrestling moves.

A sturdy crocodile like this one is useful because they have to race or struggle with it:

Duck Push

What you need:

  • Rubber ducks (one per child)

How To Play:

  • Give each child a rubber duck and send them to one end of the pool
  • When you say "Go", players must push their duck to the other end of the pool. . . without using their hands!
  • They can push, blow, or bump the ducks with their nose, whatever it takes to get the duck moving.

To make the game more challenging, players must “distract” each other by splashing water or wave their ducks off course.

However, the same rules apply: no hands allowed!

The first to get his duck across the pool wins!

With a whole set like this one do you have enough rubber ducks for your kids and every boyfriend or girlfriend who wants to participate, and everyone can choose his own color:

SWIM

How To Play:

To play this game, the first player performs a task that the others have to repeat.

For example, if the first player does a handstand in the water, the other players take turns also attempting handstands.

If someone cannot complete the task, he or she earns the first letter of the word swim.

Whoever plays “swim” first loses.

To keep it fair, you might 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 may also need an objective judge to determine whether the stunt earns him or her a letter, and whether the stunt is safe enough to do of course.

Float Race

What you need:

  • Swimming rings, one per player (choose any type you want), as long as they are big enough to sit on

How To Play:

Instruct players to stand on their floats on one side of the pool. Choose someone to be the referee.

When the referee calls 'Go', players race to the other end of the pool.

Players who fall off their swimming rings will be disqualified. The first player wins!

Tip:: This game works best in a longer pool and can also be played as a relay with two teams so that the other has to return for example.

Read here in this article also everything about how to choose good sturdy swimming rings.

follow the leader

How To Play:

  • Choose one player as 'leader' and one as 'spectator'
  • The leader must be in the center of the pool. The spectator must be out of the pool and stand where they can see everyone. The rest of the players must stand behind the declarer
  • When the spectator says "Go", the leader starts to swim. The leader can do whatever he wants: dog paddle, backstroke, swimming underwater, nothing is off limits
  • The players must exactly imitate the leader, and the spectator keeps a close eye on the action and eliminates players who don't do what the leader does
  • Eliminated players must leave the pool. The last player in the pool along with the leader is the winner, and they become the new leader.

Freezer

How To Play:

This modified version of tag is best played in a shallower part of the pool where each player can stand with their heads above water.

  • Pick one player to be 'it'. That person tries to tap the other players
  • Players who are tagged must remain 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 underwater. After a minute or two, let someone else be "it" and continue the game until everyone has had a chance to chase.

Frozen T-Shirt Contest

What you need:

  • Two frozen T-shirts

Tip:: T-shirts take a while to freeze, so plan ahead and put them in the freezer for a day or two before playing!

How To Play:

In this game, the first team to unfreeze a frozen T-shirt wins!

  • Divide players into two teams
  • Give each team a frozen T-shirt and tell them they can use whatever resources they need to thaw the shirts: the garden hose, the pool, the hot pavement - you name it
  • The game is over when a team member has successfully put on the thawed T-shirt

Invisi bottle

What you need:

  • An empty 2 liter soda bottle (with cap), with the label removed.

Tip:: For best results, use a bottle with a white or clear cap or one that matches the color of your pool. Empty water bottles work great too!

How To Play:

  • Fill the 2 liter bottle with pool water and close it tightly
  • Divide the players into two teams and have the teams move to the other side of the pool, looking away so they don't see what's going on there
  • Throw the bottle into the water. When they hear the splash, the teams can turn and try to find the bottle.
  • The clear bottle will blend in and become almost invisible at the bottom of the pool. The first team to find it wins!

Marco Polo

How To Play:

Marco Polo is a simple game that can be played with two or more players.

  • To play, choose a player to be “it”. That person closes his or her eyes or is blindfolded and counts to 10, or longer if it is a larger pool
  • While the 'it' person counts, the other players scatter in the pool.
  • When the count is over, the “it” player tries to tap the other players and uses only the sound of their voices to find them
  • . The “it” player shouts “Marco” and the other players shout “Polo”. When another player is tagged, that player becomes the “it” person and the game starts again.

Emergency sign

What you need:

  • Two pool noodles

Those things really cost next to nothing, for example here at Decathlon:

  • One pool raft or large pool (must be big enough for two children)

How To Play:

  • Pick two players, put them on the raft together and push them to the center of the pool
  • Give each player a pool noodle and let the joust begin!
  • Players play with the noodles until one player is knocked off the raft. The remaining player is the winner.

Fast counting

What you need:

  • Ping pong balls (25 to 30 balls)
  • A permanent marker
  • Two plastic buckets

Tip:: Before you start, use the permanent marker and number each ball from 1 to 25 (or 30).

How To Play:

  • Divide the players into two teams. Give each team a plastic bucket and have them move to the other side of the pool.
  • Throw the numbered ping pong balls into the pool and when you say 'Go' the team members will race to collect the ping pong balls and place them in their team's bucket.
  • Here's the challenge: players or teams can only retrieve one ball at a time.
  • When all the balls have been collected, each team counts the numbers on their balls. The team with the highest score wins.

To make it more interesting, consider awarding extra points for collecting sets of consecutive numbers.

Now team members really have to communicate with each other about which ball is going back and which one has to stay there for a while.

Or, instead of marking the ping pong balls with numbers, use colored marker pens to draw a dot on each ball.

Place a small colored dot in different colors on each ball. Teams may only collect the balls of their color.

Octopus

How To Play:

  • First, choose a player to be “it” and leave them in the middle of the pool
  • Instruct the rest of the players to stand on one side of the pool and swim from side to side while the person 'it' is chasing them and trying to tap them
  • The players who are tagged hold the hand of the person who 'it' is. During the next round, all tapped players holding hands try to tap the swimmers while trying to reach the other end of the pool.
  • Keep going until all players are tapped - then choose another player to be “it” and start over.

Treasure hunt

What you need:

A variety of small items such as coins, diving poles or anything else that will sink (make sure not to avoid anything sharp or glass).

You need two of each item.

How To Play:

  • Divide players into two teams. Throw your items in the pool (make sure there are two of each item)
  • When you say "Go", players will dive under water to get one of the items from the bottom of the pool. Each team must collect one of each scavenger hunt item from the bottom of the pool
  • The first team to collect all items wins. The team that has an item double automatically loses

Sharks and fish

How To Play:

  • Choose a player, the "shark". The rest of the players are fish
  • The “shark” moves to the center of the pool while the fish gather at one end of the pool
  • When the shark shouts “GO”, the fish should swim to the other end of the pool without being tapped by the shark
  • If a 'fish' player is tagged, the fish must leave the group and become a shark too
  • As you play, the group of sharks will grow and the group of fish will shrink. The last fish to survive without being tagged wins the game

So you think you can dance. . . pool edition

What you need:

  • Theme song
  • Swimming pool lighting (optional)
  • Props (optional)

How To Play:

It's like your own reality TV show! In this game, individual participants or teams choreograph synchronized water dances to their favorite pop songs.

The great thing about this game is that it can be adapted in a variety of synchronized water dances to their favorite pop songs.

The more creative the better: use waterproof props and costumes to make the show even more elaborate!

You can even use your pool lighting to add a little spice or with glow in the dark ducks or sticks put together an evening program.

Invite family, friends and neighbors to watch the performances and vote for a winner.

You can even come up with different reward categories like funniest, most original, and so on (just let them know in advance so they can respond to this).

Watermelon race

What you need:

  • A watermelon (one per team or player)

How To Play:

It's pretty simple: players have to push a watermelon on the bottom of the pool from one end of the pool to the other. The first on the other side wins.

Put your own spin on the game by adding custom rules such as:

  • Players cannot touch the bottom of the pool with their feet
  • Players cannot touch the watermelon with their hands
  • Players must deliver the watermelon in relay style

The best thing about this game? When the race is over, you have a healthy snack. Just rinse and cut into pieces!

Wet T-shirt relay

What you need:

  • A soaking wet T-shirt (one per team)

How To Play:

  • Divide players into two teams
  • Half of the players in a team are on one side of the pool and half of the players on the other side
  • Designate one player from each team as the “starting” player and give him the soaking wet T-shirt
  • The starting player must put on the T-shirt, swim through the pool, take the shirt off and hand it over to his teammate on the other side
  • Next, that player must put on the T-shirt and cross the pool and hand over the T-shirt
  • The first team to get all players through the pool while wearing the T-shirt wins

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.