I played my fair share of beer pong in college. It was crazy-fun, but looking back, how was consuming beer that’s had a dirty ping pong ball thrown into it a thing that we were all totally OK with? Gross. If you were also a fan of beer pong, you will be instantly familiar with the “basics” of this summertime backyard game I like to call bucket ball. Your party, up-till-dawn, walk-of-shame memories will come streaming back to you, because bucket ball is a family-friendly version of beer pong. The game will last well into the long summer nights, and parents and kids of all ages will enjoy this fun outdoor game. Plus it’s a great way to cool off on a sizzling summer day. Here’s how to play:


  • 12 white 5 gallon buckets from Home Depot, $4.47 each
  • small red and blue basketball, or a ball in the garage, such as a volleyball
  • water 


Step 1: Set up the buckets in 3, 2, 1 order on two different ends of the yard. 


Step 2: Fill the buckets with water a quarter to halfway full (so they don’t tip over). Warning: This may be the start of a water fight…which is all the more fun!




Step 3: Pick your teams. 



Step 4: Play ball. Rules are below. 





You can make your own rules, especially when kids are involved, but these are the rules we play by. 

  1. Teams are two vs. two.
  2. You must always shoot from behind the buckets.
  3. You can shoot the ball underhand or overhand—whatever way you want.
  4. Players on each team must take turns shooting the ball. 
  5. The ball can bounce or fall directly into the bucket for a score. 
  6. Once a player makes a shot into the bucket, you remove that bucket from play. The first team that has no buckets left wins. The less buckets there are, the harder the game becomes. 
  7. For kids, it’s easier to set all the buckets out and leave them out, instead of removing one every time a team scores. If you play this way, set a number to play to and the first team to that number (i.e., ten) wins. 

More Lawn Games: