Summer Games For All The Family

There's nothing worse on a family day out than the palaver that ensues when mum and dad realise their memories of their favourite childhood games are a little faded. "So, you go over there and then you two... No, that's not right... Erm... How about we play catch instead?"

To avoid faffing over who's supposed to stand where (or even worse, squabbling over whose rules are right), we've put together the basic rules for the most common family summer games to jog your memory.

Of course, every family has its own eccentricities when it comes to games, so feel free to add in your own rules to make the games your own - 'Mum isn't out if she was only topping up her glass of Pimms', for instance.

British bulldog

What do you need?

Nothing! That's the beauty of it! It works best if you have a large-ish group of people, though. And a first-aid kit might come in handy, given the game's reputation as a top-notch scratch and bruise generator.

How do you play?

Each end of the playing area is 'home'. One (or two, depending on how many players there are) players start the game as the 'bulldog', while the others gather in one of the home zones. The goal is to reach the other side without being caught by the bulldog.

The bulldog must hold onto the runner long enough to say 'British Bulldog, one, two, three' for the runner to be considered caught. As players are caught, they become bulldogs and help catch the runners.

Any players who have not been caught then attempt to cross back to the opposite home zone – this continues until everyone has become a bulldog.

If the sound of thudding heads and cracking bones is starting to make you blanch, you might want to change the rules so that players are tagged by the bulldog rather than tackled.

Stuck in the Mud

What do you need?

Again, nothing. We're saving you a fortune with this stuff!

How do you play?

One (or two, depending on the amount of players) people are 'on' and act as catchers. They must try to tag the other players, who then become 'stuck' and have to stand still, with their arms and legs spread.

The only way for them to be 'unstuck' is for another player to go through their legs. The game goes on until everyone is stuck, or loses interest and wanders off for a choc ice.

French cricket

What do you need?

A tennis ball or other soft ball for bowling, and a cricket bat. Failing this, a tennis or badminton racquet, or anything you can swing at a ball (even a rolled-up newspaper will do the job in a pinch)

How do you play?

The batsman stands still with his or her legs close together, while fielders spread out across the playing area. The ball is thrown, underarm, at the batsman's legs, while they use their bat to defend themselves.

If the ball touches the batsman's leg, the fielder who threw the ball replaces them as batsman. There is no official bowler – any fielder can throw the ball at the batsman from any angle.

If the game starts to drag because it's taking too long to get the batsman out, you can make things trickier by forbidding them to turn while batting, declaring them out if they move their feet.


What do you need?

A bat (ideally a proper rounders one, but anything will do), a ball (a tennis ball works well, but again, you can improvise) and markers for four bases – posts work best, but jumpers will do -to lay out in a diamond.

How do you play?

You need a minimum of 12 people to pull this off properly, so it works best at large gatherings. Divide players into two even teams, batters and fielders. The bowler stands roughly halfway between second base and the batter to throw the ball.

The batter's objective is to hit the ball and then run around all four bases without being made 'out' and thereby score a rounder (getting to second base without stopping is a half-rounder), although they must still run even if they did not hit the ball.

The fielders man the four bases and remaining fielders spread out in the playing area to try and catch the ball once it has been struck. If they catch the struck ball without it touching the ground, or if they beat the batter to a base and touch it with the ball, the batter is 'out' and must leave the pitch.

A few finer points of the game: There can only be one batter waiting at each post, so if a batter starts running, any batter waiting at the next base must also start running.

If the ball is hit by the batter but goes backwards instead of forwards, the batter may only run as far as first base.

Each team has two innings. An innings ends when all the batters are out.

The ball is bowled underarm, and cannot be too high, low or wide, or else it is a no-ball and must be bowled again. Three (some say two) no-balls in a row gains the batters a free half-rounder.