5 Fantastic Games to Play with a Soccer Ball

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One of the things I usually tell my peers is that the technological revolution has been a double-edged sword for humanity.

People are now more connected than they have ever been with the increasing accessibility of the internet, but this has come at the cost of physical interaction on a social level.

When I was younger, I recall spending most of my evenings and weekends playing soccer outside the house with my friends.

Due to the fact that I lived in an estate, it was easy to gather up and have a casual kickabout.

But now we’re often curled up on our sofa sets, catching up with the latest episodes of a popular show on Netflix or, fully immersed with Call of Duty on our expensive gaming consoles!

Times have certainly changed, although not all hope is lost.

If you’re a soccer fan that’s tired of lazing around in the house, you might want to get your muscles going by trying out a number of soccer ball games.

A great game to play with a soccer ball is piggy in the middle, where 3 or more players form a circle with a ball retriever stationed in the centre of the ring. In a nutshell, the circle formers attempt to pass the soccer ball amongst each other without it being intercepted by the retriever. In addition to this, some other alternative soccer ball games include soccer tennis, the crossbar challenge, and a personal favourite that I like to call battle royal.

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As a pre-requisite, you will need a friend group that shares your interest in the sport, because these games are often a lot more enjoyable when played together with other people.

I’ll now explain what the aforementioned games are about, as I’m sure there will be some readers who don’t quite understand the basics and the intricacies of the options that I referred to within the boldened paragraph.

So, let’s crack on!


What are the best games to play with a soccer ball outside?

Here’s my curated list, in no particular order of preference…


1. Piggy in the middle

games to play with a soccer ball - piggy in the middle

This is a traditional children’s game (known in America as a soccer rondo) where two people attempt to throw a ball to one another without it being intercepted by a third person who stands in between them.

But when I was younger, we adapted this game to soccer quite brilliantly.

Instead of having just a thrower and a receiver, with a “piggy” responsible for trying to intercept, we formed a circle of three or more players.

We would usually have one chaser in the middle tasked with retrieving the ball from any of the other participants that form the circle.

If that retriever managed to acquire possession of the ball from any of the players that formed the ring, then they would exchange places with the player that lost the ball and become a distributor instead.

This back and forth would usually happen until we had enough players to arrange a six-a-side match.

And we had some really great ground rules for this game:

  • Retriever nutmegged – the chaser has to retrieve for an additional two tries
  • Handball by the retriever – a penalty of three or five tries applied

If you don’t quite understand what I mean by these, I’ll explain a little more.

Let’s say that you were assigned as the ball retriever, and one player from the circle was skilful enough to nutmeg you (successfully pass the ball in between your legs).

This would mean that you would have to get the soccer ball under your control another two times before you would be able to exchange places with a member of the circle.

It was actually quite thrilling to see someone get nutmegged four or five times, as that would mean they’d have to retrieve possession eight or ten times before they could swap out with another player!

Some other things we did to spice up this game was making the circle smaller or adding a second ball retriever in the middle, especially if we wanted to scrutinise the first touch of players who formed the circle.

Also, we sometimes required the players in the circle to take only two touches before releasing the ball, and misplaced passes meant that the offender would have to swap out with the retriever too.

Here’s a quick demonstration of how the Premier League side Manchester City play this game at the highest level:

If you manage to try this game out, don’t be surprised if you witness some participants grabbing onto the soccer ball when falling over, as it’s quite normal for someone to want to call a foul especially if it means they’ll avoid becoming the retriever!


2. Crossbar challenge

This one is a really simple 2 player soccer ball game that tests shot accuracy.

Although you will need a goalpost to play it, because it involves attempting to hit the crossbar frame from dead ball situations.

Each player takes turns to hit the bar of the goal and each successful try is tallied up, with the winner being the person who had the most crossbar contact over a certain period of time.

You can make things even more interesting by including more participants (preferably up to 5), or requiring each player to use their weaker foot for each shot.

Another way to hike up enjoyment levels in this game is to get players to take shots from wide and acute angles, as it’s usually more difficult to curve the soccer ball onto the crossbar than simply taking dipped pot-shots from central positions.


3. Soccer tennis

games to play with a soccer ball - soccer tennis

Up next we have what is called soccer tennis, or football tennis for those based in the United Kingdom.

This game doesn’t have any defined rules which is great for people that like to be flexible.

You simply have at least one player on each side of a tennis-like net, with the aim being to either:

  • Make sure the soccer ball bounces two consecutive times on the other participant or team’s side of the net
  • Force the opponent player or team to kick the ball out of bounds

When any of these things happen, a point is awarded to the person or team that made the error – whether it was forced upon them by the opposition or not.

Typically, the soccer ball is allowed to bounce once on either side of the net within the playing area, and participants can even lob the ball to the other side without letting it bounce if they wish.

Any part of the body – except the hands – is usable when attempting to control the ball, and it’s a great activity for improving one’s first touch and general ball mastery.

The player or team that wins is the one that reaches the target tally first – whether that be 5 points, 10 points or more.

You might as well take a leaf out of the Bayern Munich team when it comes to soccer ball tennis, and pay particular attention to how many touches they take while on the ball and how they even use overhead kicks as a point-winning technique.

Here’s how they play it:

If you want to dial up the difficulty of this game to the maximum, try implementing the following rules and see how it goes:

  • No ball bounces
  • Limited touches
  • Headers or weaker foot control only


4. Juggling

games to play with a soccer ball - juggling

Soccer ball juggling is a relatively straightforward game to play.

All you usually need is a single partner – at the minimum – and a soccer ball then you’re good to go.

But it’s also important to note that you can play this game alone if you feel like.

This activity primarily entails keeping the ball under control whilst it’s airborne until one person slips up by letting it fall to ground.

You can use your thighs, your feet, your knees and even your head to control the ball, making sure that it doesn’t bounce in the process.

If you have many participants involved, it’s easy to play an elimination game here as well.

The winner is simply the last man standing – or in this case playing.


5. Battle royal

And last but not least we have one of my personal favourites.

This game is soccer through and through as it’s all about scoring goals.

To get it rolling you’ll need a bunch of players – preferably more than 5 – and a goalkeeper to stand in between the net.

When you manage to score a goal, you have three choices which include:

  • Eliminating any active opponent
  • Giving yourself one “life” as protection against any possible elimination in the future
  • Re-introducing an eliminated player back into the game

The rivalries that develop and mature as this game goes on is quite fascinating to see.

And on top of that, when I used to play this game there was a rule that if you took a shot attempt that was off target, then you would eliminate yourself as a result!

It made people really careful – especially in front of goal – as everyone knew that one simple mis-kick could lead to their demise.

At the end, the winner would be the last active to remain on the field of play.

I highly recommend that you try out this one.


Which online soccer ball games are enjoyable?

On the other hand, if you enjoy spending time with consoles and gadgets, then it might be worth checking out some online soccer ball games in your spare time.

I’ve hand-picked a couple of good ones, which you can see in the list below:

The first option (Football Manager) drills down into all the different aspects of club and international management, as you have control over various aspects of operation like training schedules, player tutoring and tactics.

It has an online versus mode where you can play against your friends to see who has the best tactical acumen.

The other two games – FIFA and eFootball – have a number of different online modes where you can play against people from all over the world and build your squad into the perfect competitive outfit through purchasing player packs and climbing the league ranks within them.

Samuel Waihenya
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