Genesee County parks cover more than 11,000 acres, so there’s never an excuse not to go out and get some fresh air. Besides the usual fun of picnics, hiking, and walking the dog, there are many leisure sports that don’t require much equipment and are a ton of fun and good for meeting new friends. You don’t even need to join a league—just get some people together and play a game!
1. Ultimate (Frisbee)
When you chance to come upon a game of Ultimate in the park, at first you might think it’s a leisurely game of catch with the disc. Then, suddenly, fast action takes over as a few of the players suddenly bolt down the field. The game goes from a dead stop to a full sprint, much like soccer. And that’s why it’s awesome. If you want a great way to get in shape, get some friends together and play Ultimate. Check out the official rules here at the USA Ultimate website.
What it’s most like: soccer, or schoolyard rules football.
What you’ll need: a frisbee or official disc, and eight small cones for marking the field.
Number of players: Official is seven on a team; you really need at least four on a side to make it interesting.
Athletic level: Intermediate to advanced. You don’t have to be a college intramural hero, but it helps.
What to avoid: Heavy or restrictive clothing. You’ll want to really move when you’re playing this one.
2. Disc Golf
It’s a bit like golf, but adapted for casual play with a frisbee. There are several dedicated courses in the area, but frankly, playing in just about any park is as simple as choosing which tree to aim for and seeing who hits it in the fewest throws. Watch out for passerby, though…
What it’s most like: playing catch with a frisbee, or video game golf
What you’ll need: a frisbee, or an official set of discs if you’re serious
Number of players: Up to four in a party is customary, but they say that in regular golf, too…
Athletic level: Casual
3. Bag Toss
Since I can never bring myself to utter the word “Cornhole” in public, let’s just call this one Bag Toss, ok? If you have been here long, you’ve seen/heard/been bewildered by this game which looks easy to play, but really isn’t easy to master.
What it’s most like: horseshoes, or darts
What you’ll need: a bag toss set, instructions here. You can also purchase them in sporting goods stores
Number of players: Two teams of two
Athletic level: Except for your shoulder and/or elbow? Nil
4. WIFFLE Ball
Yes, there are people who take it much too seriously to the point of mistaking it for the real thing. But c’mon, it really isn’t complicated. Just get that little plastic bat and ball, a few friends, and act like you’re playing baseball, but without breaking a sweat. It’ll take you right back to being a kid again. Find a clear spot where you won’t run into any trees, and avoid dogs that will chase down the ball and steal it while you’re playing. Be prepared for 9 year old boys to come up to you and ask to play, too. Always remember: as a resident of the United States of America, if a child under the age of 12 ever approaches you and asks to join your WIFFLE ball game, you are obligated to allow them to play AND to bat next. Rules is rules. Speaking of which, the official rules are at the WIFFLE company website, and this league has also established some more serious gameplay rules, if you really care that much…
What it’s most like: WIFFLE ball. There is no substitute
What you’ll need: I think you can guess that by now
Number of players: Bare minimum is two per team, better with 3—5 on a side
Athletic level: Intermediate. Hand-eye coordination is a big one
What to avoid: Taking it too seriously
5. Tip HORSE
Let’s face it, unless you’re practicing for the team, playing HORSE is pretty boring. So, to speed things up, try this version where only tips and free-throws count. You can run your butt off, and the shots are wild and make great Instagram photos.
What it’s most like: a wild game of half-court basketball
What you’ll need: a basketball, and a half-court to play it on with no innocent bystanders to plow over
Number of players: Three is ok, but better with four to seven players. Eight or more people should really just get two games going
Athletic level: From casual to intense, just depends on how bad you wanna WIN
1. Scoring is reverse of standard HORSE. Letters are awarded for made shots, first player to get all letters wins.
2.Choose an order of play. This must be followed strictly during the game. Choose what is considered out of bounds and other ground rules (for play off of fences, obstacles, etc.)
3.First player shoots from predetermined spot (usually free-throw line) and intentionally “bricks” the ball. It must hit backboard and/or rim.
4.The next player in line has only two bounces to “tip” the ball and attempt to make the shot. IMPORTANT: A “tip” is when the ball is caught and shot again while the player is in the air. (This is where the hustle comes in.)
4a. If the shot goes in, a letter is awarded to the player and he is allowed to attempt free-throws (set shots). Each made up to three in a row each receives another letter. Missed shot that catches backboard and/or rim resumes tip play as in #4. Airball removes a letter.
4b. If shot misses and catches backboard and/or rim, play continues to next player who attempts a tip.
4c. If tipping player cannot attempt a tip within two bounces from previous rebound, or if player airballs his tip, it removes a letter and player must brick from free-throw line to set up play for next player in line.
5. First player to spell HORSE wins.
6. There are no negative letters. A player who has no letters and airballs, etc. stays at no letters.
7. Since hitting the backboard and/or rim is built into the rules, a bona fide shot attempt can include intentionally slamming the ball off the goal to make it really tough for the next player.