outdoor games for middle school
Youth Group Game: The Fury of John McEnroe

This is a great game that was submitted by one of our readers, and I love it. We’re definitely going to try playing this before it get’s too cold outside here in Massachusetts. If you’ve got a great game you think other Youth Pastor’s would love to play with their ministries, email it to info@youthmin.org and we’ll get it to the masses!

I’m not sure how this game came about exactly, except to say we had a tennis racquet, an empty, clean trashcan that we use for another game, and we said, Hey, let’s play Whiffle Ball, but with a tennis racket and a dodgeball, so this game was born.

Materials Needed:

A Tennis Racquet (one you don’t mind kids tearing up)

A Dodgeball

A Trash Can (A clean one)

4 bases of some sort (We actually use 3 foot, traffic cones)

Game Set-Up and Play:

I generally set the bases up 30 feet apart (you’ll see why when the kids start hitting the ball). I set trashcan where the pitchers mound would normally be.  You split your group into 2 teams, any number works, we’ve played with 20 kids on each team. Everyone hits, everyone plays is my rule. Each team gets 5 outs per inning, rather than the usual 3. Anything hit past the pitcher is fair.

Here’s where it gets crazy. The only way to get someone out is the get the ball into the trashcan (it has to stay, no bouncing out) while someone is not currently on a base, so if they’re between bases, they’re out. 5 outs ends an inning. The offensive team can as many people on a base as they want, and they can run around the bases as many times as they want. They can’t stop at home like they can the other bases. If they want to stop running, they’re free to once they cross home.

I generally pitch and play defense for both teams (and usually help out the team that needs it). The pitcher also calls outs, and it’s judgement, so have fun. You keep the game moving quickly, and you’ll get scores into the 20′s and 30′s with kids running all over the place.


This game was submitted by Zach Gibson - I’m a slacker, saved by grace. I’ve been involved in Youth Ministry since 1998, and a youth pastor since 2007. I’m the Youth Pastor at Community Christian Church in Hemet, CA. I’m married to my college sweetheart, Kristi, and we have 2 daughters.

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  1. Huh? I don’t get it. Can you explain it better (and fill in a couple of missing words)?

    • If I understand correctly, it’s like chaotic oversized whiffle-ball.
      Set up a giant sized baseball diamond.
      Throw/roll dodgeball to “batter” who hits with tennis racket.
      If ball stays between base lines and passes the pitcher, it’s “fair” and they run to first and beyond. Play stops by getting the ball into the trash can at the pitchers mound (rather than tagging the runner). Any runners not touching a base when the ball goes in the can are out.
      Next batter… and so on. You can have multiple runners on each base, you don’t have to wait / only have 3-4 runners at a time. Since kids would be out when the ball gets back to the pitcher, you’d end up with some kids who are slower/cautious who won’t run very often (plus the bases are super far apart), but some of your athletes will get doubles pretty easy. They all get to advance at their own pace.
      Pitcher (youth pastor/leader) plays for both teams and makes calls to keep it fair. No arguing, just play.
      No limit to scoring or batters per inning.
      5 outs per inning.

      Sounds like a great game! Totally throwing this out to our team!

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