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Tips and Tricks to Making Your Own Tetherball Set

One of my favorite things about tetherball is that you can play it with a partner or play it alone.  I always enjoyed going to campgrounds and playgrounds while growing up that had a tetherball set.  If you like this game too or would like to try it for the first time, there is no need to go anywhere other than your own backyard. I'm going to go over instructions that will walk you through making your very own tetherball set in your own backyard.  Let's get started.

What Is Tetherball?

Tetherball is a game played by two people who hit the ball in opposite directions until one of the players gets the ball to wrap around the pole.  Tetherball is very popular in schoolyards, summer camps, and playgrounds.  It is uncertain when this game was invented, but because this game is similar to volleyball it is believed to have been developed after volleyball was invented in 1895.   Tetherball is also similar to the game called paddleball that is played in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, where a smaller ball is hung from a pole and hit with paddles.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Supplies Needed to Make a Homemade Tetherball Set

Before you begin building, you will need some supplies.  Some of the supplies you may be able to get for free, such as the tire, but overall this is a cheap tetherball set.  Here are the supplies you'll need:

  • 1 tire
  • 1 5/8 x 8 ft. 16 gauge galvanized steel line pole
  • (2) 1 foot pieces of rebar
  • Cement (180 pounds)
  • 5/8 x 3 in.  round swivel eye bolt snap
  • 1/4 x 2 5/8 in. eye bolt
  • 2 washers, lock washer, and nut (all 1/4 inch)
  • 18 gauge galvanized wire
  • Tetherball with rope
  • Drill
  • Shovel
  • Bucket
  • Water

How to Build a Tetherball Set

Now it is time to get started on building your own homemade tetherball set.  This tetherball set that I'll be instructing you to build is a tetherball set with tire base.  This means that it is supported by a tire.  Not only will this tetherball set be very fun, but it is also a great way to re-purpose an old tire.  Because the tire can roll, this DIY tetherball set will be portable.  I'll go over the details on how to install a tetherball pole, how to attach a tetherball to a pole, and how to write you kids names in the cement.  Let's get started.

1. Drill Holes in Your Pole

Begin drilling holes into one of ends of the pole, in a cross pattern.  Since the ends of the pole should be the same, it doesn't matter which side you choose to drill.  Your first hole should be about 2 inches from the bottom of the pole, and the other hole should be 5 inches above that.  Next, slide in the rebar and secure it with the galvanized wire.  On the opposite end of the pole, drill a hole for the eye bolt and secure it with a washer and a 1/4 inch nut.

2. Mix the Cement

Set the tire on a large garbage bag.  This will prevent the cement from leaking out onto your yard.  Use a shovel to mix the cement.  Use your bucket to mix the cement in.  Follow the directions that came with your cement.

3. Shovel the Cement into the Tire

Once you have mixed the cement, you can begin shoveling it into your tire.  Next, set a large ladder next to the tire.  This will help support the pole while the cement is drying.  Stick the pole into the tire, while making sure that the rebar end goes in first.  Make sure it is centered, and that the rebar is completely covered.  Don't worry if you get cement on the tire, as it will scrape off once it dries.  Using a level, keep checking to make sure the pole is in the center.  You can tie the pole to the ladder with wire if you'd like.  This will allow you to go on with your day without having to watch the pole.  However, make sure you are around to keep checking on the cement and if the pole is still level.

4. Write Your Kids' Names in the Cement

After 3 to 4 hours of letting the cement dry, you can write your kids names in the cement.  They can each write their own name into the cement if they want, but if may be hard for them to write, depending on their age.  Another option is to have them stick their hands into the cement to make a print of their hand.  This option is much easier to do.  Make sure you allow the cement to dry for a few hours before doing this step.  You will want the cement to be semi-firm.

5. Attach the Tetherball to the Pole

The last step to building a tetherball set is attaching the tetherball to the tetherball pole.  To do this, clip the snap bolt onto the eye bolt at the top of the pole, and tie the rope onto the swivel portion of the snap bolt.  Now you can enjoy your new tetherball set.  Later in this article I'll go over some fun games to play with your tetherball.

Photo Credit: Simply Kierste

How to Build a Tetherball Court

Now that you've learned how to make a tetherball set, it is time to learn how to build a tetherball court.  A tetherball court is the place where you play tetherball.  A tetherball court can be made both outdoors or indoors.  During the Winter, it may be a nice idea to have a tetherball court in your garage.  Here are the steps to building a tetherball court:

Build Your Tetherball Set

A tetherball court is not a tetherball court without the tetherball.  Before building your court, first follow the steps to making a tetherball set.

Choose the Location

Decide where you would like to build the tetherball court.  Make sure it is a level area.  A driveway or grassy yard can make a great tetherball court.

Draw a Circle to Mark the Court

Draw a circle, about 10 feet in diameter, to mark your court.  If the court will be on grass, use spray paint to mark the circle.  If it will be on pavement, use chalk.

Place the Tetherball Set into the Center of the Circle

The next step is to place the tetherball into the center on the circle.  You may need to measure it to make sure you have it in the center.

Mark a Line in the Center of the Circle

Draw a line in the center of the circle.  This will allow each player to know where to stand.

Average Price

Like I said earlier, this is a very cheap tetherball set.  Here is around what each item should cost:

Tire – You should be able to get a tire for free.  The next time you need to change a tire, save the old one.

Pole – $15

Rebar – $1.50

Wire – $2

Cement – $6

Hardware – $5

Tetherball – $15

Different Tetherball Games to Play

The official way to play tetherball is for two people to hit the ball back and forth, while trying to make it wrap around the pole.  However, there are some other fun ways to play tetherball.  Remember to use your imagination, and feel free to set any rules that you'd like.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Yell Out a Category Each Time You Hit the Ball - Each time a player hits the ball, he/she must yell out a category.  Categories could include a color, girl names, boy names, fruit, countries, etc.  The rules are that each time the player has to say a different name.  For example, he/she can't say the same color twice.  If the player misses calling out the name, or says a name that has already been said, the other player gets a free hit.  Once one of the players wraps the ball around the pole, you can start the game over.
  • Use Paddles - Instead of using your hands, use paddles to hit the ball back and forth.

Photo Credit: PikNikMagazin


I've gone over all that you will need to know about tetherball including how to make your own tetherball court and games to play once you have it set up.  I hope that this brief tutorial will get you started on many days of backyard fun with your tetherball set.  Just imagine all of the fun parties and get togethers that can host with a tetherball set.  And then there's the exercise factor for you and your family. One of the beauties of a tetherball court is that it's always set up and ready to be played on.  When you have an extra 10 minutes and want to blow off some steam after work or a hard day, you can simply walk right out to your own backyard and play tetherball alone or with someone.  Have fun and don't forget to share your new tetherball court with friends, family and neighbors.

Mariann Foster

I am one of our content writers for Everything Backyard. I am a mother and business owner of Big Horn Mountain Alpacas in Wyoming. I love farm life, cutting my own firewood in the mountains, and participating in local trail run races.

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