Group Tennis Games: Jail and Around the World

Young boys playing tennis
Young boys playing tennis. Swell Media/Getty Images

Camps, schools, and summer recreation programs sometimes find themselves with large numbers of kids on a court and in need of a safe, fun tennis game for the group. Here are two excellent options:


Beginner and advanced beginner: 4-20 players

The kids line up at one end of the court. Feed from the opposite side of the net. Each kid gets a certain number of chances to get a forehand or backhand into the doubles court. If she gets one in, she is safe. If not, she goes to jail: she goes to the other end of the court where she'll try to catch a ball hit by another player. If she makes her catch, she is free from jail, and the player she caught goes to jail. When only one player is left, she tries to get three shots in that don't get caught before she misses three. If she succeeds, she wins the game. If someone catches one of her shots, it's a jailbreak: everyone is free, and a new round begins.

  • Give weaker players three chances, stronger just one, and vary the depth of which they hit according to their abilities.
  • Let weaker catchers catch after one bounce in jail. Very small kids can simply touch a ball in the air to be freed.
  • If jail starts to get crowded, limit the prisoners to two steps to get to a ball. That will keep the more aggressive players from running into or in front of other players.
  • Keep the playing area clear of loose tennis balls.

Around the World

Advanced beginner through advanced: 5-16 players

Half of the kids line up at one baseline, half at the other. Feed one of the kids at the front of his line. He must hit into the singles court, then run to the end of the line at the opposite end of the court. The kid at the front of the opposite line does the same. The rally continues, with each player hitting the ball, then running around the net. When a player misses, he gets an out. With three outs, he drops out of the game. Once only two players are left, they no longer run around the net: they simply play points (still from a feed) until one of them has three outs.

  • Stand next to one of the net posts to feed.
  • Players must always run to their right.
  • Remind players to give the current hitter plenty of room to move back for deep balls.
  • When a player misses, send the next feed to the player to whom the missed shot was supposed to go.
  • Players who get out may go to an adjacent court to hit.
  • Make sure the running path is free of obstructions and loose balls.