10 Fun Water Balloon Games You Can Set Up In Under 10 Minutes


Water balloon fights aren’t the only way to have fun with water balloons. I put together this list of water balloon games that can be set up in under 10 minutes, but provide hours of cool down fun.

First, you want to make sure you have plenty of water balloons. All of these games use water balloons, so these Bunch O Balloons Instant Fill Water BalloonsOpens in a new tab. from Amazon are a must. You can fill 100 water balloons in under a minute this way, after trying these, I’ll never fill water balloons by hand again.

Some of these games are made easier if you have a bucket to put the water balloons in, and of course, bathing suits or clothes you don’t mind getting wet are recommended. Lets get into it.

1. Water Balloon Toss

Water balloon toss is one of the most popular water balloon games besides having a water balloon fight. A lot of kids will just naturally try this without realizing it’s a game. Two people will stand facing each other and toss a water balloon back and forth until it pops.

How To Play:

  • Two people stand facing each other
  • One person throws the balloon to the other
  • If the the other person catches it, they throw it back to the original person
  • If both people catch the balloon without it braking, they both take one step backwards
  • Continue tossing and taking a step back until the water balloon pops
  • The team that ends the farthest apart wins

Variations:

Try this with more than two people, three create a triangle, four people, create a square. When the balloon is tossed around to each player and back to the original person, everyone takes a step back.

Another variation is to have each player toss a water balloon. The tosser is also the catcher, and both balloons must be caught to take a step back. This can be really fun with four people. You will pop a balloon a lot sooner though, because each player needs to toss at the same time for this work.

Here’s a fun video of a large group of people playing water balloon toss. You can see as they move further apart, how much harder it gets.

2. Capture The Flag With Water Balloons

Everyone loves a game of capture the flag. A lot of people play this with nerf guns or in a laser tag arena. But with water balloons, it’s a fun way to cool down on a hot day. You will need a lot of water balloons if you play this game, because it never ends with just one round, everyone wants a rematch.

How To Play:

  • Split players into two teams
  • Set a base for each team that will hold their flag
  • Each team gets a flag and a bucket of water balloons
  • Flags can be bright colored shirts or cloth
  • If you are hit with a water balloon, you are out
  • The team that brings the enemy flag back to their own base wins the game

This game is all about teamwork. The most successful teams assign roles to their players. For example, two players will guard their teams flag, and the rest will ambush the enemy base and capture their flag. Maybe it’s best to split into groups and flank the enemy. This is the funnest part of capture the flag, and it teaches kids to work as a team.

This game is best played in an area with obstacles. Natural obstacles would be nice, like an area with bushes and trees. But if you’re going to be playing barefoot, you won’t want to be running around through the woods, an open grassy area would work better. You could use some Inflatable ObstaclesOpens in a new tab. found on Amazon for pretty cheap. We use these when we play Combat Archery Tag also, so they were definitely a good buy for us.

Variations:

Allow shields to protect from water balloons, and getting out, to make this game more interesting. Tote lids or metal pizza pans make good shields, anything will work though. We’ve used cardboard before, but after it gets wet, the cardboard is not a very helpful shield.

Here’s a cool video of a group playing water balloon capture the flag to give you an idea of what it looks like. They played in an open field with slightly different rules, such as you just drop the flag if you’re hit, rather than being out. Either way it looks like they had a blast!

3. Back To Back Water Balloon Relay

This is a fun game that doesn’t require as much space, and doesn’t involve throwing the water balloons. The goal is for two people to carry a water balloon from one area to the other, without popping it, using only their backs. We’ll use cones or buckets to mark the starting and finish lines.

How To Play:

  • Split players up into teams of two
  • Each team gets 5 water balloons
  • Set two lines in the yard, about 20 feet apart
  • A team must position the water balloon between both of the players backs before crossing the starting line
  • Players must carry the balloon between their backs over the finish line, then run back for another balloon
  • Once the team has crossed the starting line, they are not allowed to touch the balloon with their hands
  • The team that brought the most balloons over the finish line, without dropping them, wins
  • If two teams brought the same amount of water balloons, then the team that did it fastest wins

There is some level of strategy in this game, and it gets the kids to work together and think out their approach. On the one hand, you want to be the fastest in case you tie for amount of balloons with another team. On the other hand, if you take your time, you may just beat everyone by having the most balloons brought over.

Variations:

To save on water balloons, sometimes we’ll have give each team just one balloon. But they have to cross the finish line and come back to the starting line with one balloon. The team that does it fastest, without dropping their balloon, wins the game.

Here’s a quick clip to show what the game would look like.

4. Water Balloon Pop Race

The whole point of this game is to pop water balloons. It’s a guaranteed way to make sure everyone gets wet. Which is just what you need on a hot summers day sometimes. You’ll want plenty of water balloons, and clothes you’re happy to get wet in.

How To Play:

  • Split players up into teams of four (any size teams will work)
  • Set a starting line and a pop zone for each team
  • The first to go for each team will run to the pop zone and sit on a water balloon to pop it
  • When the water balloon pops, they run back to the starting line and tag the next player in their team to do the same
  • Only one player per team may be across the starting line at a time
  • Someone will need to be near the pop zone to place more balloons, or have all the balloons placed beforehand, one for every player
  • When every player has popped a balloon and returned to the starting line, the game is over
  • The team to finish first wins

Variations:

To lengthen the game, require that each player pop two balloons. Either at the same time, or have them do two cycles for every player. For example, a team of 4 would have 8 total runs to the pop zone and back.

To eliminate the need to lay all the water balloons out, or stand there and put them down between players runs. Instead of sitting on the balloons to pop them, a team member must toss them a balloon to pop. They can just let the balloon hit the ground and pop, or hit them out of the sky to save time before sprinting back to tag the next player.

5. Water Balloon Dodge Ball

Almost everyone has heard of dodge ball before, and knows the basics of how to play. But with water balloons, you can’t reuse them, so the game play is a little different. Dodge ball requires some resemblance of a court to play, we just put cones or buckets to mark the boundaries.

How To Play:

  • Split the players into two teams
  • Mark a center line on the court that the teams are not allowed to cross
  • Place buckets of water balloons on the center line
  • When the game begins, players from both teams will run to the line to grab their water balloon
  • You are not allowed to throw water balloons within 10 feet of the center line
  • If you are hit with a water balloon, you are out
  • If someone catches a water balloon you threw, and it doesn’t pop, you are out
  • If you throw a water balloon and it pops without hitting anyone, you are out
  • The team that gets out all their opponent teams players, wins the game

Variations:

We noticed that throwing a water balloon and getting out if you miss, causes everyone to be really hesitant. It slowed the games down, and wasn’t much fun to be honest. So we just don’t use that rule. Anyone can throw as many balloons as they want, you only get out if you are hit by a water balloon, or someone catches a water balloon you threw.

6. Hide And Seek

This game is very easy to explain to everyone, and is such a fun way to cool down. Everyone already knows how to play hide and seek. Someone hides, and you have to find them. Well this time, you have to find them and hit them with a water balloon.

How To Play:

  • Split players into two teams, the hiders and the seekers
  • The seekers close their eyes and count to ten while the hiders go hide
  • The seekers then grab some water balloons and look for the hiders
  • When a hider is found the seeker must hit them with a water balloon
  • When all hiders are found, the teams switch roles and play again

Variations:

We noticed the faster players were able to dodge the water balloon when they were found, and were hard to track down to tag with a balloon. This dragged the games out, with usually one fast player left that the seekers couldn’t get.

So we marked off a 20′ by 20′ area. When a hider was found, the only place they were allowed to run, is that boxed off area we marked out. Now the seekers have an easier chance to hit them with a water balloon. The seekers are not allowed to enter the square, but can surround it and hit the hider a lot easier.

7. Strainer Catch

This is such a simple game, but so fun, and guarantees everyone gets wet. You will need plenty of balloons and a strainer for each team. If you don’t have as many strainers as you have teams, you can rotate and keep track of scores. We only have one strainer we use for this game, and it’s so fun, no one minds waiting to play.

How To Play:

  • Split players up into teams of two
  • Set throwing and catching zones about 30 feet apart
  • Each team gets 8 water balloons
  • One player on a team will hold the strainer over their head in the catch zone
  • The other team member will throw half the balloons, trying to get them into the strainer
  • The team members will switch positions, and throw the other half of balloons
  • The team that gets the most water balloons to land in the strainer, wins the game

Variations:

Try adjusting the throwing and catching distance to make the game more fun for your group. We like to give each team 10 water balloons, 5 for each player of the team. Everyone ends up cheering for whoever is throwing, whether they’re on their team or not. Because you just want to see the player holding the strainer get soaked.

8. Water Balloon Target Toss

This is a fun game of throwing accuracy, but you’re not throwing water balloons at one another. So this is a great game for people that don’t want to get soaked. There are some fun ways to add in some splashes though, if your goal is to cool down.

How To Play:

  • There are no teams unless you want to make teams
  • Set targets up for the players to throw water balloons at (someone holding a hula hoop, a bucket on the ground, etc..)
  • Each player gets 5 water balloons
  • The player to hit the target the most times wins

Variations:

To make the game more fun, some people like to volunteer to be the target. On a hot day, being the target can offer some cool relief from the heat. In that case, the player who pops the most balloons on the person, is the winner. You can split players into teams, each player still gets 5 water balloon tosses, but the team with the most target hits wins.

9. Water Balloon Tic Tac Toe

This game has to be played where you can draw a tic tac toe board. Usually the driveway works best, draw the tic tac toe board with some driveway chalk. You could also play in the yard, just use markers to mark off the board, like cones or yard paint.

How To Play:

  • Draw a tic tac toe board, it looks like a big pound sign or hashtag that creates 9 boxes
  • Players take turns throwing balloons on the board, you need two players to play a game
  • The goal is to hit three consecutive squares with a water balloon
  • If the other player already has a square, you can’t use that square as part of your three
  • The player that gets three squares in a row, diagonal, horizontal, or vertical, wins the game

Variations:

Sometimes we draw a bigger board, and play connect four with this same method. Or we use the bigger boar but still only require three in a row. It’s hard to keep track of who hit which square as you use bigger boards, so we’ll use different colored balloons. After the balloon pops in a square, the player can take their popped balloon pieces to mark their square with.

10. Wooden Spoon Relay

Many people know this game, but are used to using an egg. Well instead, we use a water balloon. We will typically need to use bigger spoons, like a wooden spoon, to hold the bigger water balloon though. The goal is to move as fast as you can without dropping your water balloon, using only a spoon to hold it.

How To Play:

  • Split players into teams or play individually
  • Mark a starting line and a finish line in the yard
  • Start players with a spoon and a water balloon
  • The players can only hold the spoon, with the water balloon on it
  • If a player touches the water balloon, they are out
  • When the game begins, the players must run from the starting line to the finish line without dropping their balloon
  • The player that crosses the finish line first, wins

Variations:

To play this game in teams, start with on teammate at the starting line, and one teammate at the finish line. The players must transfer the water balloon to their teammates spoon, and the teammate must run back to the starting line with it. The team that finishes first wins. For larger teams, do the same, the players will need to keep the same balloon going back and forth for as many teammates as they have.

Bonus: Water Balloon Baseball

This game is easy to set up, but you might not be able to set it up and explain the rules in under 10 minutes your first time playing. So it’s not in the list, but definitely worth a mention here. In fact, I wrote an entire article just about this game, How To Play Water Balloon Baseball. It’s such a fun way to spend a few hours, having a blast, and cooling down at the same time.

Clean Up Tip

We usually do a good job keeping the yard cleaned up between games. Just have everyone run around collecting water balloon bits before the next game can begin. Everyone’s usually so excited to play the next game, they run around collecting all the pieces pretty quickly.

At the end of the day, or when you’re done playing water balloon games. Have everyone collect all the left over balloon pieces, offer a Popsicle as a reward for helping.

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Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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