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Kubb is the fastest growing yard game in the world. It’s easy to learn but hard to master. This “how to” book will explain the sport in great detail, including the rules, terminology, and strategy.
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EXCERPT FROM BOOK
In 2001, I entered my first craft show in Cheboygan, Michigan, selling wooden airplane swings, stick horses, and rubber band guns. Since then, I have expanded to a variety of other swings and games. But the assembly line work of just making a few miscellaneous toys can wear on a woodworker as he toils through the cold northern Michigan months in his shop trying to get ready for summer and the next arts and craft season to begin. I needed some new ideas.
So, one day after a fun-filled afternoon of playing the popular Ladder Golf game at a family reunion, I decided to research different kinds of yard games people play around the country. I knew how many folks played the traditional games of Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Croquet, Badminton, Horseshoes, and many other sports. However, it seemed Ladder Golf was in a different genre altogether. It was more “family friendly,” easier to tote around for “tailgating” and camping, and easier to set up and play on variety of surfaces such as grass, dirt, cement, gravel, and even snow or ice. And it was sufficiently challenging to play for a wide range of age groups. For all these reasons, it seemed like the ideal game. I wondered if there were other yard games out there that could be similarly categorized. I had to find out.
I soon discovered from family, friends, customers, and on internet sites that there were many cool yard games being played in pockets around the United States very few people knew about. These games had yet to be discovered by mainstream America. They included Bunnock, Ga-Ga, Toli, Kubb, Molkky, Quoits, Yukigassen. And, after continued research, it led me to many other games and ancient traditions. I became fascinated with how other cultures were passing the time like we Americans do at our reunions, picnics, camping trips, and on college campuses. The research led me to trying my hand at crafting some of the most popular yard games from around the world. And it was during that time I got an idea about this book.
So, with all that said, here are some important things you should know about how this book is structured. First, many of these games have a popular name which is used as a “working title.” However, there are four exceptions:
- There are no “official” titles recognized for the game. There may be so many versions and no identified inventor to have an “official” title.
- I have chosen to use an English translation as opposed to the popular foreign name.
- The game is designed in such a way that it is unique or different from any well known versions of the game.
- The game is purely the concept and work of the author.
Additionally, this book is designed to describe some of the top yard games being played around the world today. Great care has been done to research these games and provide a book that will share the following information:
- Other names known.
- History of the games and how they originated.
- Primary geographic locations.
- Championship play.
- How the games are set up.
- Rules for play.
- Pictures or sketches of the games and set-ups.
- Recommended Websites and YouTube videos.
This book is comprehensive, but in no way inclusive of every yard game ever played in history or that has ever been imagined.
And that is the key word: imagined.
There are many games out there yet to be discovered, being played by remote groups of people somewhere in the world, ready to burst out onto the market and become the next new fad.
In whatever way you use this book–for information, being the “keeper” of the rules, or to help you build your own games–I hope you enjoy it.
YARD GAMES DEFINED
What are yard games? Most people know what they are and use terms interchangeably to refer to them, such as “backyard games,” “lawn games,” and “tailgate games.” However, it’s hard to find a good definition for this category of fun. It seems pretty self-explanatory; after all, the title gives a big hint: games played in the yard. However, this definition doesn’t really fit. After all, not every game played in the yard falls into the category of what would be considered the traditional yard game.
So I decided to do some research. I looked up “yard game” on Wikipedia and couldn’t find anything. However, I did find “lawn game” which is defined as “any outdoor game that can be played on the lawn (that is) marketed . . . for home use.” This definition seemed too broad to me and not very helpful. I couldn’t find any other site with a better term and definition.
It was then I decided to devise my own working definition. But first, I had to eliminate certain games from the category which could also be played in the yard. For example, I decided to exclude any games for which there is almost no physical exertion, such as Marbles, Giant Lawn Chess, and Shuffleboard. Second, I excluded anything in the category of “schoolyard games,” such as Tetherball (my personal favorite), King of the Hill (my least favorite), Kickball, Four-Square, Hopscotch, Jacks, Red Rover, Tag, Ampe (Ghana game), Red Light-Green Light, Marco Polo, Hot Potato, Simon Says, Spy, Musical Chairs, and Hide and Seek. Third, I excluded the typical professional sports team such as Hockey, Baseball, and Football or similar sports (with the exception of Golf which I believe fits the upcoming definition satisfactorily) that usually require many players, playing gear, and safety equipment. And last, I excluded anything that could not be easily transported in a camper, pickup, car, or the back of an ORV.
Typically yard games are the kinds of games used in the following (or similar) situations:
- Family and friend gatherings, reunions, and picnics;
- Tailgating parties at major professional sports events (Nascar, Baseball, Football, etc.);
- College gatherings and athletic events;
- Other similar events.
So now, after the exclusions above, my own personal definition:
YARD GAME: A yard game is a relatively simple outdoor game that can be played by two or more people of varying ages and abilities on a variety of surfaces and that is challenging, exciting, and fun.
This working definition was used as a guide for inclusion of the games found in this book. There are many more games that didn’t make the list and could arguably fit the definition. However, this author has chosen to leave them out in lieu of those games which have shown more popularity and tradition over time.
OTHER BACKYARD SPORTS
As previously mentioned, there are many “yard games” that didn’t make the list. Baseball, Football, Volleyball, Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, Cricket, Curling, Kabaddi, and many other sports can arguably be played in the backyard (tailgating and camping might be a little more difficult, but not impossible). Because these games are typically not considered “family friendly” yard games in the spirit of such games as Ladder Golf, Cornhole, and Washer Pitching, they didn’t make it in the book. Also, there are many game variations to current major sporting events with professional athletes which could have been included in this book, but because these games are derivatives of a major sport, they didn’t make the list as well. Here are some examples:
Baseball Variations: Softball, Wiffle Ball, Stoolball, and Kickball
Basketball Variations: Slamball, Korfball, Netball, Twenty-one
Football Variations: Soccer, Rugby, Footy
Ice Hockey Variations:Lacrosse, Hurling, Field Hockey, Sled Hockey
Tennis Variations: Racquetball, Squash, Handball, Paddleball
Volleyball Variations: Walleyball, Beach Volleyball, Fistball, Newcomb Ball, Sepak Takraw, Throwball
One exception to the rule of excluding professional sports in this book is Golf. Golf is included because it fits the definition of a yard game noted above. It is a relatively simple game for all ages that is challenging and fun. It has a rich and ancient history as you will find in the “Racquet And Club Games” section of this book.
It’s likely many of the professional sports noted above, including Golf, were once ancient yard games in some crude form or another and later evolved into the more elaborate games we know today. The rules for these games were eventually written into a manual or book and became codified as the official rules of the sport with an identified regional, national, and/or world governing body. For example, the first rules for modern Baseball were developed in 1845. Prior to that, there were a lot of bat and ball games which likely influenced the establishment of baseball. Such games included Cat, One Old Cat, Stoolball,Trap-ball,Cricket,Dog and Cat,and Rounders (Town-ball). The same is also true for Football (derived from Rugby), Tennis (derived from Rackets), Pelota (based on earlier French games of hitting a ball with the bare hands and, in later years, with gloves), and Hockey (derived as the winter version of Shinty, a centuries old stick-and-ball field game from Scotland).
It’s amazing to see the wide variation of games being played today. One can even find the same traditional sport but being played by athletes while riding big animals, competing underwater, or using a wheelchair perhaps. Many of the unique sports are just crosses, hybrids, mixes, and combination of existing sports. The list is almost endless. Here are some examples:
VARIATIONS OF YARD GAMES AND SPORTS
Austus: hybrid of American and Australian Football
Ball Badminton: cross between Badminton and Tennis
Beach Tennis: hybrid of Beach Volleyball and Tennis
Bicycle Polo: playing Polo on bicycles
Broomball: similar to Hockey but using brooms and a ball
Camogie: a Hurling game for women with a variation of the rules
Croqkick: cross between Croquet and Soccer
Elephant Polo: playing Polo on elephants
Flickin’ Chicken: Rubber chicken tossing game
Footbag: combination of Tennis and Volleyball
Football Tennis: cross between Soccer and Tennis
Footby: mix of Soccer, Football, and Rugby
FootGolf: cross between Soccer and Golf
Footvolley: hybrid of Soccer and Volleyball
Frescoball: combination of Paddleball and Battledore/Shuttlecock
Futsal: similar to Soccer but played indoor with some different rules
Hurling: Field Hockey with differences in stick usage
Knotty: similar to Field Hockey and a variation of Shinty
Korfball: mix of Basketball, Handball, and Netball
Kronum: mix of Handball, Soccer, Rugby, and Basketball
Matkot: hybrid of Beach Volleyball and Tennis but without a net
Middleball: Volleyball using a beach ball on a Racquetball court
Nashball: mix of Soccer, Fistball, Basketball, and Volleyball
Paddle Tennis: combination of Paddleball and Tennis on a small court
Pelota Mixteca: similar to Tennis and Handball (using a glove)
Phasketboot: Mix of Basketball, Football, and Ultimate Frisbee
Pickleball: combination of Badminton, Tennis, and Table Tennis
Pington: similar to Badminton but using solid wooden paddles
Pitton: combination of Pickleball and Badminton
Platform Tennis:Tennis on a raised enclosed platform on small court
Polocrosse: combination of Polo and Lacrosse
Qianball: a mix of Tennis and Squash but without walls
Racquets (Rackets): combination of Squash and Racquetball
Rapid Ball: a faster paced combination of Squash and Racquetball
Real Tennis: Indoor Tennis on a bigger court with different rules
Ricochet: similar to Racquetball using Tennis racquets
Ringball: Netball and Basketball in a three-section court
Ring Tennis: combination of Tennis and Volleyball using flying rings
Samoa Rules: hybrid game of Rugby and Soccer
Shinty: Field Hockey with a broader use of the stick
Shinty-Hurling: hybrid sport combining Shinty and Hurling
Slamball: Basketball and Football using eight trampolines
Soft Tennis: Tennis using soft rubber balls
Speedball: mix of Soccer, Handball, and Basketball
Speedminton: mix of Badminton, Tennis, and Squash
Squash Tennis: Squash using Tennis balls and racquets
Swamp Football: Soccer played in swamps or bogs
Tchoukball: combination of Pelota, Handball, and Volleyball
Tenniquoits (Tennikoit): a combination of Tennis and Quoits
Tennis Polo: mix of Field Handball, Hurling, and Football
Three Sided Football: Soccer with three teams on a 6-sided field
Trugo: combination of Lawn Bowls and Croquet
Two-Handed Tennis: Tennis but players hold two rackets each
Universal Football: a cross between Soccer and Rugby
Underwater Hockey: Hockey with the puck at the bottom of the pool
Underwater Rugby: similar to Soccer and Handball but underwater
Viperball: Indoor version of Tennis Polo as described above
Volata: a cross between Soccer and Handball
Xare: similar to Racquetball but with different equipment and rules
Along with the wide variety of sports combinations, there’s an endless supply of games not included in this book because they would fall into what I would call the “fair” or “carnival” category. Here are some of the more unusual ones I’ve found listed by country:
Australia: Beer Can Regatta, Cockroach Racing, Dwarf Throwing
Turkey: Camel Wrestling, Oil Wrestling
United Kingdom: Shin Kicking, Pea Shooting, Worm Charming
United States: Beer Pong, Lawn Mower Racing, Hot Dog Eating
Varying Countries: Joggling, Paper-Scissors-Rock, Tug of War
Last, “party-style” games did not make the book. These might include Beer Pong, Pin The Tail On The Donkey, Relay Races, or anything you might find on popular TV reality games shows like “Minute To Win It,” “Survivor,” and “Fear Factor.”
HOW TO GET YOUR YARD GAME
Finding your own yard game is easy. First of all, if you’re not in a hurry, check out some of the local craft shows in your area. You might find some quality handmade games at a reasonable price from local artisans and you would be supporting your local businesses. If unsuccessful, ask the crafters if they know of anyone making them. Otherwise if that doesn’t work, just Google search the game on the internet. Compare prices with different retailers for the best buy. Or better yet, save some money and create the game yourself with some basic tools and materials. Some of the games only require a suitable playing area and minimal equipment, such as a few pop bottles filled with water and some tennis balls (Roals or Ulu Maika), a good supply of snowballs and two flags (Yukigassen), two recessed coffee cans in the ground and six washers (Washoes), some flying discs and natural landscape objects (Disc Golf), four rods, four plastic cups, and a flying disc (Flimsee), some tennis balls and a golf ball (Bocce or Petanque), or a large rubber kickball (Dodgeball or Ga-Ga). There are some excellent websites with directions on making a few of the popular games such as Cornhole, Washoes, Kubb, and Ladder Golf.
HISTORY OF YARD GAMES
No one knows the earliest yard game. No doubt, some caveman probably looked at the grassy expanse before him and came up with a game involving knocking over some blocks with his war club while sipping on some spiked coconut juice with his friends. In any event, there are historical records (albeit crude cave drawings) available that support the presence of yard games in ancient times leading up to the present.
Ancient games were held in many areas of Europe and Asia. In ancient Egypt, as depicted on pharaonic monuments dating back to 3000 BC, Hockey and handball-style games were commonly played. In Greece, games were played for the Gods, with historical records dating back to 776 BC at Olympia and continuing until 393AD when all “pagan cults” were banned by Emperor Theodosius who was campaigning to promote Christianity. In those early years, the Olympic Games were considered a religious festival under the God Zeus, but did not so much focus on the non-secular purpose as it did the talents and physical performance of the athletes and encouraged good relations with surrounding cities. In ancient Rome, handball-style games were played along with gladiator-style competition during the Roman Empire which began in 338 BC.
The chart below lists the chronological history of yard games as defined in this book from ancient times to present:
|YARD GAME||CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY (Best estimates)|
Bowling Ancient Egypt 5200 BC or earlier.
Bocce Ancient Greece 5000 BC or earlier.
Boules Ancient Greece 3000 BC or earlier.
QuoitsAncient Greece 2000 BC or earlier.
Battledore/ShuttlecockAncient Greece 2000 BC or earlier.
UlamaAncient Mexico 1400 BC or earlier.
HorseshoesAncient Greece 1000 BC or earlier.
GorodkiAncient Russia 1000 BC or earlier.
Ulu MaikaAncient Polynesian game 450 AD or earlier.
KyykkaCenturies old game from Karelia, Finland.
Skittles 3rd or 4th century Germany.
Chunkey 6th century Cahokian region Native American game.
Bowls 13th century England or earlier.
Chole 1300s in Belgium.
Croquet 1300s in France beginning as “Ground Billiards”.
Golf 1400s in Scotland.
Toli1600s or earlier by Native Americans of North America.
DodgeballLate 1700s in Africa using a rock instead of a ball.
Bunnock Early 1800s by the Russian military.
Badminton Mid 18th century; roots in ancient Greece and India.
Bat and Trap Old Flemish game that has been played in the current modern version in England since the early 1900s.
Washer pitching possibly late 1800s in some form or another but most likely 1988 in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in style today.
Petanque 1907 in southern France.
Kubb Viking Age is debatable; perhaps Sweden in the early 20th century.
Cornhole debatable; some say 14 century Germany; others say western Cincinnati in the 20th century.
Ga-Ga 1950s by American John Crosley at his summer camp
Lawn Darts/Jarts late 1950s in the United States.
Disc Golf 1976 in California.
Yukigassen 1988 in Sobetsu, Hokkaido, Japan.
Molkky Southern Finland in 1996.
Ladder Golf possibly 2001 in California.
Tournament of Knights 2001 in Sweden, by Micael Hellberg.
Poles 2003 in Alberta, Canada but may be older.
Ringamathing 2005 in Alanson, Michigan, by this author.
Sholf 2007 or earlier, by Paul Hauber.
Baseball Ringers 2007 in Alanson, Michigan, by this author.
Flimsee 2008 in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, by John Mally.
Boochie 2008 marketed by toy company Gamewright.
Rollors 2009 in Mequon, Wisconsin, by Matt Butler.
Big Birdie Golf 2009 by Horseshoe Golf LLC.
KanJam 2011 in Buffalo, New York, by Charles Sciandra & Mitch Rubin.
Canz 2012 in Evansville, Indiana, by Escalade Sports.
Spinnerz 2012 in Evansville, Indiana, by Escalade Sports.
Roals 2013 in Alanson, Michigan, by the author.
Knights 2013 in Alanson, Michigan, by the author.
There are many more games that didn’t make the chronological history list that could arguably have been included. However, those that did make the list are the more popular games in recorded history and best fit our definition of a yard game.
So, as they say in the Olympics, let the games begin!