Game, Set And Match! How To Recreate A Sporting Event In Your Garden

Share
Tweet

Calling all sports fans! With all the top sporting events now put on ice - no Wimbledon for tennis fans, no Premier League matches for fans of the beautiful game - the time has come to recreate the great sporting tournaments in your own garden. We've come up with some great fun garden ideas for kids and anyone who is missing their sporting fix - we even have some ideas on how to create your own Olympics! We have tried to include ideas whatever the size of your outdoor space. So dig out your running shoes, get warmed up and have some sporting fun with the rest of the family without leaving your garden.


Inspiration straight to your inbox, every week

Tennis

You'll need a net for your garden game of Wimbledon. If you don't have a net lurking in a garden tennis or badminton set in the shed, you could string a rope across the garden, or use the washing line. To make it more effective, hang some sheets or blankets over it to create the actual 'net'. If you have rackets and proper tennis balls, brilliant, if not try using a sponge ball, bean bags or even balloons. Remember you need a gold plate to present to the winner - make one out of some cardboard and you can then write on the winner's name and date of your family lockdown tournament.

On your own? Make use of the house or garage wall - use some chalk to mark the net, or draw some numbered targets on the wall - can you get a high score? If you don't have a wall, set up some (clean!) bins or boxes and try to hit the ball in them. Hang an old sheet over a goal or over the washing line and use it to practise your shots against.

Here are more ideas for on how kids can learn tennis in your garden.

Football

If you have garden goals, you have everything you need to recreate your own fun, family garden tournament. If you want to get serious, you could mark out the pitch - if the grass needs a cut, try mowing the lines to mark out the edge of the pitch and the goalmouth. If it goes horribly wrong you can always mow it away! You can buy special marking paint designed for gardens, but unless you happen to have some sitting in the shed you may have to get creative - chalk, kids poster paints, any paint you happen to have. Be warned though, that oil-based paint will not do your grass any favours, so if you're attached to your lawn, avoid them.

On your own? No goalie? Use an old sheet or tarpaulin, cut out some circular targets top right, top left, bottom left, bottom right and in the centre, and peg over the front of the goal or over a washing line and practise your penalties.

Get some online coaching inspiration here.

father and son playing football together

Athletics

With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics postponed until 2021, athletics fans will have to recreate their own Super Saturday in their back garden. Get ready to prepare your garden for kids to win multiple medals. If you're organising several events, you should have a score board. This can be a blackboard or easel whiteboard if you have one, or just a big piece of paper. Hint: scorer is a good job for anyone in the family who doesn't fancy having to take part in any events themselves!

Track

Races are simple, but if you have a small garden, it might be safer to race against the clock rather than each other. In a small garden, how about giving the race walk a try - you know, the ones with the wiggly hips! If you want to see how to get the technique right, watch this video.

Introduce some variety in your running races by setting up some hurdles - they could be cones, cushions, plant pots . If you have some footie cones, set them about a foot apart and rest a stick across to create a hurdle. You will have to get creative - it might be toy swords, guns - whatever you can find that is sticklike!

Throwing Events

If you have several children, especially little ones, make sure you have clear rules about staying behind the thrower so that no one is in danger of getting hit by a flying projectile.

Javelin

A pool noodle makes a good javelin. Cut it in half and tape a straight stick through its middle if it is too curly or wiggly. Dig out a measuring tape so you can record the scores properly. Also you could use a Nerf Vortex Howler if you have one - it looks like a rugby ball with a tail. It uses a similar throwing action to the javelin and is what younger athletes use before they graduate to the real thing.

Shotput

Keep the measuring tape out for the shotput event. You'll need a ball that can be held in the hand - a tennis ball would be just fine. Remember the young athletes need to push from the shoulder, rather than throw if they want to work on the 'proper' technique. If you want an official-looking throwing circle for your garden, ideas include marking one out using some rope or tape, or drawing a chalk one on the ground. You can use it for the Discus throwing, too.

Discus

Obviously you need a Frisbee or other flying disc. Maybe you can borrow the dog's if the kids don't have one. Otherwise, try raiding your CD collection to create a super shiny discus - time to get rid of some of those embarrassing one-hit wonders!

Swimming

child swimming in rubber ring

Yes really! No, we're not suggesting everyone jumps in the garden pond, but there are a couple of ways to get the swimming pool experience on dry land. If you have a decent sized skateboard and the kids aren't too big, they can lie front first and propel themselves with their legs while doing the correct stroke with their arms. Or they can lie on top of a garden bench and you can judge them on their style. For authenticity, goggles, hats and fins are essential! If the weather turns warm, this would be great fun in a paddling pool.

If you have a few people willing to take part - how about a bit of family synchronised swimming? Get some inspiration from these boys and their on-stage performance. It's great fun!

Long Jump

If you have an agility ladder for footie training, this is the ideal thing to create the area for the long jump. We're not going to encourage anyone to jump into a sandpit as it's too easy to injure yourself, but you can get your budding athletes having a go at the standing long jump. Some children may have tried this already in sports hall (indoor) athletics at school. For this, you start on two feet and you swing yourself forward with your arms, as far as you can, and land on two feet.

High Jump

Use a piece of tape or a skipping rope. You'll need two people to hold each end and raise it higher each time. If you don't have enough people, tie it to a tree, washing pole or similar.  If you want to go the whole hog, bring out an air bed for them to land on the other side!

Bowling

If you can't lay your hands on a bowling set,  raid the recycling bin for 10 drinks bottles, and fill them halfway full of water. Set them up in a pyramid shape, in the garden or on the driveway, and then use a tennis or football to knock them down. Who will be the family bowling champion?

Curling

One to play on the driveway. You'll need a broom or two from the house, and a mop for pushing the 'stones'. Unless you happen to have some curling stones knocking about somewhere - and we'll be really impressed if you do - just gather together a few balls; footballs, garden balls, whatever you have around. You can lay down a real stone at the end of the drive (closest to the house) and then push the balls from the other end. Be ready with your phone to record your kids brushing the drive with the brooms - that's one for posterity.

young boy playing golf

Gymnastics

Challenge the kids to see just how agile they can be in an outdoor 'arena'. How many cartwheels can they do? How about a forward and back roll? Get them to devise a routine on the beam - otherwise known as a garden bench or railway sleeper.

Put some music on and let them make up their own floor routine, or supply them with a football, hula hoop or piece of ribbon and they can show you how graceful they can be with some rhythmic gymnastics. They will love the chance to get creative to their favourite song. We predict a lot of Greatest Showman tunes...

Need some inspiration? Hannah Martin, who competed in this year's The Greatest Dancer competition, demonstrates the basics of rhythmic gymnastics on her YouTube channel.

Golf

You can have great fun setting up some golf holes in your garden. Use plastic cups or plant pots laid on their sides as the 'holes'. You can keep it simple, or keep the kids occupied for ages devising a crazy golf course using anything they can find - odd bits of drainpipe, car tracks and so on. You can play using ping pong balls, bouncing rubber balls or any little balls, and if you don't have any toy golf clubs, use a broom, toy sword, or stick.

FootGolf

Lots of golf courses around the country are diversifying, by setting up a FootGolf course for people to play alongside their traditional golf course.  If you've never tried it, make a note to book a visit when we're all allowed out again. The aim of the game is to to kick the ball around the course, and aim for the football-sized holes, which look just like golf holes, complete with flags. Instead of digging up the garden, we suggest using bins or large plant pots as holes. You can lay some on their sides, while some can stand upright so the player has to chip the ball into them. Remember to keep a score of how many kicks it takes each player to get the ball in the hole.

mother and daughter playing basketball

Basketball or Netball

There's no need to have a proper basketball or netball, a football will do just as well if you want to play a game of either in your garden. This is a great game if you don't have much space. If you don't have a hoop, maybe find yourself a round bin (that you've cleaned and emptied of course), which could be tied up on a fence or drainpipe. If you don't want to use it again, knock out the bottom so the ball doesn't have to be retrieved every time. For solo players, the challenge is to score a 'hoop' in different ways - one-handed, two-handed, with their eyes shut, facing away from the hoop. see what else they can come up with!  If you have two or more players they can battle each other for possession of the ball and a chance to score.

Naomi MacKay
Mum of one

Mum of one teenage boy, near Leighton Buzzard, Beds. Born and raised in the Home Counties, Naomi has explored much of London, along with Beds, Herts and Bucks, with her son and husband. When she’s not driving to various skateparks around the UK, Naomi loves finding somewhere new to explore or a new activity they can all try.