“Balloon Tennis” Teaches Hand-Eye Coordination While Wearing Kids Out

You don't even have to enjoy racket sports to appreciate this energy-burning game.

by Dave Baldwin
Originally Published: 
An illustration of a parent and a kid playing balloon tennis in a room

‘Balloon tennis’ is a fun indoor exercise game designed to help kids practice hand-eye coordination, learn the basics of net sports, and burn off excess energy ⏤ all while not destroying your house in the process. It’s essentially tennis, or volleyball, or Newcomb ⏤ if you remember that one from PE ⏤ played with a balloon as a ball. It’s ideal for toddlers who may be too young to swing a tiny tennis racket or for cold days when you’re stuck inside. And who knows? It might one of the activities for kids that inspires your kid to play real tennis once they’re old enough.

The rules and gameplay are fluid depending on the age and number of kids, but there is no shortage of ways to play in order to keep their attention and/or prepare them for the 2035 Australian Open. Just remember, as long as they’re tiring themselves out, it’s game, set, and match to you.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Entertainment Time: 30-60 minutesEnergy Expended by Child: Moderate to High

What You Need:

  • Several balloons
  • Fly swatters; paper plates, duck tape, and popsicle sticks; or just a couple of hands
  • A piece of string and two chairs on which to tie it

How to Play:

Simple, like a basic version of tennis. It’s pretty self-explanatory. First thing’s first, you need rackets. If you have two or more flyswatters in the house, you’re all set. Otherwise, it can be fun to engage in a little arts-and-crafts time before the big match. Let everybody make their own racket by taping a popsicle stick to the back of a hard paper plate. If they want to be more creative (or you want to kill some more time), let them draw tennis strings or corporate logos onto the plates. If you don’t have any racket supplies at all, fret not, a hand works just fine ⏤ volleyball is equally as fun. While they’re taping or drawing, though, blow up several balloons.

With rackets in hand, place two chairs a few feet apart in the middle of the room and tie the piece of string between them. That’s the top of the net, so make sure it’s not too high. Now position one or two kids on each side of the ‘court’ and explain the rules of the game. Again, this is where you can get creative. At it’s simplest, you can toss a balloon at one of the players and start the rally, allowing them to hit it back and forth over the string. Proceed until they get bored and change the game. At it’s most intense, you can you line all the players up on one side of the net and hammer a basket full of balloons at them so they practice forehands/backhands for an hour. Kidding. Seriously, though, you can introduce scoring to work on counting and real gameplay if you want your kid to learn the rule of tennis ⏤ although probably easier, unless you’re a true purist, to ditch the 15-Love scoring system in favor of simple 1, 2, 3. Want to just work on counting? Let them yell out the number of times they hit the balloon.

Or, if you don’t care about counting or tennis or competitive play at all, but just want the kids to hit balloons, there a plenty of fun playground games they can also enjoy. A few popular ones include target practice, where they get a certain number of shots to hit an object in the room, playing on one leg to work on balance, or even just letting the kids circle up hacky sack-style and try to keep the balloon in the air. Once they start running around and hitting balloons everywhere, you can pretty much make up the rules as you go.

Wrap Up:

You don’t have to watch, play, or even like tennis to appreciate this fun (and house-safe) kid’s game. It’s simple to set up, gets kids excited to move around, and even if it all devolves into chaos, it’s still just kids hitting balloons around the house ⏤ which is always a good time.

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