Games with a Sports Theme
A sports theme is a fun and can easily be turned into an Olympics theme as well. See our Carnival Game Ideas page for more games that you can adapt to your sports theme.
We rented an air hockey table last year and it was very popular. If you're lucky, maybe a family would loan one for use at your carnival.
Make a target out of plywood or foamcore (available at art supply stores) for arrows. You can use a Nerf Bow n' Arrow set or a suction tipped child's archery set. Paint the board with a fun design and cut out holes large enough for the arrows to go through. Each player gets to shoot three arrows at the target. We have bows with foam arrows in our Catalog.
Make a target out of plywood or foamcore (available at art supply stores) for baseballs. Paint the board with a fun sports design and cut out holes large enough for the baseballs to go through. Each player gets to throw three balls at the target. We have an inflatable baseball target in our Catalog.
We have used both the standard size basketball goal and kid-sized goals. Players get three tries to make a basket. Always a long line for this!
bouncing structure / inflatable rock climb
Check your local Yellow Pages (usually listed under Party Rentals) for a rental company in your area. Be sure to ask how many children can go through in an hour. You don't want to have a long line and frustrated children (and parents!).
You can use real bowling pins, a kid's bowling set, or empty 2 liter pop bottles weighed with a little sand or water. We have several fun bowling sets in our Catalog.
can knockdown / pitching duel
Stack six cans (available from carnival suppliers) in a pyramid. Each player gets to throw one to three softballs at the cans. You can decide if they must knock down all or just a few cans to win a prize. The cans can be decorated to go with your theme.
dart throw / sports posters
Make a backboard out of plywood and attach inexpensive sports posters. Each player gets to one dart at the posters. Player wins a poster like the one they hit.
dunk tank / pitch 'em in
Dunk tanks are fun (unless you're the one getting wet!) if your carnival is outdoors. "Reverse" dunk tanks are also available where the water pours down from above rather than the person dropping into the water. Check the Yellow Pages or the internet under Party Rentals.
Make a target out of plywood or foamcore (available at art supply stores) for small footballs. Paint the board with a fun sports design and cut out holes large enough for the footballs to go through. Each player gets to throw three footballs at the target. We have an inflatable football target in our Catalog. We also have soft footballs that work well for this game.
Make a target out of plywood or foamcore (available at art supply stores) for Frisbees. Paint the board with a fun sports design and cut out holes large enough for the Frisbees to go through. Each player gets to throw three Frisbees at the target. It's helpful to have at least two sets of Frisbees on hand so one helper can chase Frisbees while the other helper works with the next person in line.
Paint foam core or plywood with funny bodies (baseball player, football player, weightlifter, etc.) cut out holes for faces. Take Polaroid or digital pictures.
guess how many
Fill a large clear jar with golf tees. Players write their guess as to how many tees are in the jar on a slip of paper. At the end of the carnival or at a set time, announce the winner and award a large prize.
This is "official" carnival name for the game where you try to ring the bell by striking a platform with a mallet. I've never tried to build one of these, but they are widely available as rentals. Ask the rental company if they have have versions available for children.
Borrow or buy a kids hockey set. Mark out numbers with tape (or use chalk outside) that correspond to prizes. The player hits the puck with the stick and gets a prize corresponding to the number the puck lands on.
Goal!: Have the players aim for a hole cut in a piece of foamcore or plywood. They get three chances to get the puck through the hole. Paint the target to look like a goalie guarding the net.
Player throws a hoop to try and ring a prize and the Hoopla stand. A Hoopla stand is basically a box with a dowel sticking out of the top on which a prize is attached. The hoop must be completely around the prize and the stand to win. To make the game harder, use a smaller hoop. To make it easier, use a large hoop such as a hula hoop. Use sports balls as the prizes.
Player must make at least one "ringer" to get a prize. Indoor versions are available, ask around your group to see if anyone has a set you can borrow.
Whether it's a single hole or a 9-hole course, miniature golf is always fun. Someone in your organization may have (or have access to through their company) a mini-golf set up. They are also available for rent from party suppliers (check the Yellow Pages).
Make a target out of plywood for soccer balls (or use a portable goal). Paint the board with a fun sports design and cut out holes large enough for the soccer ball to go through. Each player gets to kick three balls at the target.
Our local police department will bring their radar gun to carnivals and set it up to measure the speed of a baseball throw. We post the fastest pitches by grade on a dry-erase board. Check with your local police to see if they have a similar program. Rawlings makes a baseball that will measure the speed of a pitch, there is also a radar device that can attach to a baseball glove.
SPORTS BALL WAlk
Players walk in a circle of numbered squares while music plays. When the music stops, the operator chooses the winning numbers from a hat. Players standing on a winning number get a prize -- use footballs, basketballs, etc.