The Best Backyard Pool Games of All Time

December 20, 2018 Written by: Nick Luisi

No summer is complete without at least one good game (or many) in the backyard pool.

Swimming pools provide a chance for children to have fun and adults to relax. While features like hot tubs and spas and others like slides and splash pads are great additions, nothing makes up for a simple but entertaining game in the cool waters of your backyard swimming pool.

While every family and group of friends has their own opinion on the best and most fun pool game, the following are four of the most popular and timeless games to play in your swimming pool.

Marco Polo

The quintessential pool game, without question, is Marco Polo. The game is simple – just a regular game of tag – and requires just two or more players. One “it” player is chosen who closes their eyes and counts to a random number. While this person counts the other players move around the pool. The “it” player then attempts to tag the other players using only the sound of their voice who must respond to calls of ‘Marco” with replies of ‘Polo’. It’s the perfect pool game, but remember, no peeking!


Another tag game that is popular in backyard pools (at least in Chicago) is that of Octopus – and it is perfect for larger pool parties. The ‘it’ person stands in the middle of the pool while the other players line up on its edges. These players try to swim to the other side without being tagged. When they are caught by the ‘Octopus’, they join hands for the next round and then try to tag the remaining swimmers until they are all part of the octopus.


It’s the dream of every pool user – create their own whirlpool! While not easy to do, with a little planning, a big enough pool and enough energy from game players, you’ll be surprised at how enjoyable it can be to try! Here’s the best way we know how to create a whirlpool: start by having everyone walk around the pool for several minutes, and then jog around the pool and then finally try and run around the pool. The result (when it works) will be the water moving along in the same direction as everyone. Then, all at one time, try and go in the other direction and you’ll find that it is nearly impossible to do – fun!

Frozen T-Shirt Contest

One of the least known but most enjoyable games for the backyard pool is the frozen t-shirt contest. Completely wet several t-shirts and then freeze them for several days so they are solid. When the time is right, split game players up into two teams. Whoever can put on the t-shirt first wins – but that is not easy to do. Players can dunk the shirts in the pool or do anything else they can think of to unfreeze the shirt.

In addition to these “no-cost” games for backyard swimming pool fun, there are numerous other pool toys (and even backyard pool features) that should be considered. From basketball hoops and volleyball nets to rafts and beach balls, be prepared to enjoy your pool this summer by thinking about some fun ways to include everyone.

Swimming pools are wonderful addition to any backyard. If you’re thinking about putting in a new inground pool or simply renovating the pool you already have, make sure to turn to the experts at Sunset Pools & Spas – Chicagoland’s premier designers and builder of residential pools.