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"Offbeat" Outdoor Sports

When you think of 'outdoor sports', which ones do you think of? Tennis? Football? Soccer? Golf? These are all well and good, but what if you want to play a game that is a bit more 'offbeat'? When I say 'offbeat', I mean games you won't find scores for in the sports pages. There are quite a few outdoor sports that can be a lot of fun but aren't something a lot of us think of. If you're tired of the 'same-old, same-old' and want to do something different, here are some suggestions.
  • Bocce. This is a fun game you can play with your friends in the backyard on a sunny afternoon. It is usually played with two people, but you can split into teams if you have more people. A standard bocce set consists of eight balls and a smaller ball known as the 'pallino'. The pallino is thrown to determine the point of reference for the game. Then, the first player throws or 'bowls' his ball to get it as close to the pallino as possible. This sets a 'perimeter' for the other players to try to reach. Once all of the balls are thrown, the frame is over and one point is given for each ball that is inside the 'perimeter' and closer to the pallino than the first ball. The player with the most points starts the next frame, and the game is played until one player reaches 13 points. Of course, you can make whatever point adjustments you want to fit your particular group. You can find more about the game and order a set of balls at The balls can also be found at sporting-goods stores.
  • Dodgeball. Aside from being a hilarious Vince Vaughn/Ben Stiller movie, dodgeball is a lot of fun for adults as well as kids. Two of my friends even play in a local adult league! What the leagues do is have the teams line up on opposite sides of the court, run to the middle to grab a ball and try to hit someone on the other team with it. Once you get hit, you're out. It's really simple, but I would recommend using Nerf balls or softer rubber balls rather than the basketballs we used as kids. If you've ever been hit by a basketball, you know what I mean! You can make your own rules in terms of what hits are permissible; some leagues don't allow hits above the shoulders, while others don't allow hits below the waist. It's up to you to decide what works best for your group.
  • Bike Polo. It's basically the same game as 'standard' polo, but you ride bikes rather than horses. Played in tournaments and pick-up games in New York City, it is a good game to play on 'hard' surfaces without a lot of grass. In a nutshell, you are trying to hit the ball into the goal using only the mallet while your bike is in motion. No kicking the ball or touching the ground with your feet is allowed. If you want more detailed rules, check out
These are just a few of the 'offbeat' outdoor games you can play with your friends. Some of the rules might seem a bit complicated, but I think we have all used 'house rules' to play games the way we want to. You never know, you might fall in love with a sport and want to play it in a city league! It's all up to you, but it can never hurt to try something new!

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