10 Family-friendly Pool Games

By: Emilie Sennebogen
Smiling child enjoying summer vacations.
Get ready for some fun in the sun and enjoy some pool games.
Chris Williams Black Box/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It's summertime -- the weather is hot, the shorts and flip-flops are on, the kids are out of school and if you're lucky, there's some pool time in your future. For adults, that might mean lounging on the deck with a cold beverage and a good paperback. And for the kids, it means pool games -- lots of them. Here are some family-friendly pool games that are sure to please the kids, and maybe even the 'rents as well. So grab those goggles and water wings and remember, house rules apply.


10: Marco Polo

Marco Polo is an age-old pool game that's like hide and seek with a twist -- the seeker has to keep his or her eyes closed while hunting and tagging the hiders. This may sound impossible, but the seeker has a secret weapon. When he or she says "Marco," all of the other players have to reply "Polo," so he or she will know where they are. Skilled seekers keep up a steady stream of "Marco" as they make their way around the pool. The first Polo caught becomes Marco in the next round.


9: Sharks and Minnows

kids in pool
The more minnows in the pool, the better the game.
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Sharks and Minnows is another oldie but goodie. One person is the shark, and the rest of the players are minnows. The shark camps out in the middle of the pool, and when cued, the minnows dive in and try to make it past the shark. The game's over when all of the minnows have been snagged, and the first person caught becomes the shark in the next round.


8: Belly Flop Contests

A belly flop contest is a great impromptu game, especially if you have a group of kids (or grown-ups) who are more interested in laughing and goofing off than focusing on a game with rules and structure. You'll need a judge and a set of parameters for determining the winner. Criteria can include form, height or length of jump and how much pain they're in when they get out of the water. He with the reddest belly wins.


7: Chicken

playing chicken
Once you go down, there's no going back up -- during that game anyway!
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Chicken is a classic game that calls for at least four people, but more is always better. Pair up in teams of two, and elect a person from each team to sit on the shoulders of their teammate. When the buzzer sounds, mayhem ensues as everyone tries to knock their opponent down and into the water. Be sure the pool is big enough that everyone can avoid the sides. A trip to the ER is the fastest way to end a pool party.


6: Water Relays

If you have a pool full of strong swimmers, water relays are great for a little friendly competition. Pair them up in teams of two or four and pick a stroke -- freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke or butterfly. You can even do a mixed medley if you have enough players. Sound the whistle, and they're off down the lane. Teammates dive in the water once their predecessor touches the wall, and the first team to finish, wins.


5: Diving for Treasure

diving for treasure
The treasure can be anything that sinks to the bottom, no matter how big or small.
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Diving for treasure has always been an enjoyable pool activity, and this is an especially good choice if you have smaller kids who want to be included. Anything that sinks can be a treasure, and it doesn't even have to be a competition if you have enough treasure for everyone who's playing. If you want to make it a little more challenging, have someone start at the bottom with a toothpick as the treasure. Why? Hope floats and so do toothpicks.


4: Pool Basketball

If you want to play a little one-on-one in water, all you need is a poolside hoop and a ball. Pool regulation hoops can be cemented in the pool deck for permanent basketball fun, or get one with wheels so you can move it out when it's not being used. Regular basketball rules apply, even if you're playing H-O-R-S-E.


3: Air Mattress Pile Up

standing on mattress
Without the net, standing on the air mattress isn't so easy.
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All you need is an inflated air mattress or pool float and a few willing participants. Balance rules as kids pile onto the air mattress, trying to stand as the mattress buckles and sinks. Let a little air out if you really want to give them a run for their money. The lucky one who stays standing, wins.


2: Pool Volleyball

A net stretched across the pool can quickly turn yours into a volleyball court. Divide into teams, and sub a beach ball for a volley ball. If you have the shallow end advantage, be sure to make use of the spike potential. Switch back and forth so one team isn't treading water for the entire game.


1: Underwater Tea Party

tea party
Don't have a tea party by yourself; invite all of your friends to join you.
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You don't actually need tea to have an underwater tea party, but gravity sure helps. The goal of said party is to sit on the bottom of the pool, holding your make-believe tea cup. Stay underwater for as long as you can, and be sure to save your giggles until after you surface.

Lots More Information

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