The Game of Point

two brothers toss a frisbee back and forth at a free camping spot in Colorado


Want to teach your kids to throw and catch something?

This may seem ridiculous, I mean, having a catch is something all kids and their dads do, no? Not so. If you round up science and even out the facts, while 98% of dads can throw a ball, only 2% of children can catch it. Of those 2%, a full 9.2billion American children every single day just chuck the ball back into the woods before saying, “C’mon, it was rightto you!”

I devised this wonderful game over a decade ago, and all of my children can not only catch most objects of a sporting nature which are tossed at them, they can throw said same object back to me as well.

The game can be played with footballs, baseballs, whatever. Two or more players are required, with one being a non-competitive adult. We typically use frisbees, specifically Aerobies. I prefer the smaller, “Sprint” version, my boys like the larger one.

The Rules

This is a points system, hence the name. You can gain points, you can’t lose them*. You get a point every time either one of these scenarios happens:

  1. If the person you’re throwing it to misses a clearly catchable throw, the person who threw it gets 1 point. This is typically defined by whether they touch it and then drop it, or if it goes right between their arms, through their legs, etc. Throws that you have to run to catch are only counted as misses if the person runs after the frisbee, touches it but still drops it. The receiver can choose to run, dive and jump, and should—for the fun of it—make a reasonable effort to make the catch. But they don’t have to do so, as the goal of the game is also to teach kids to throw the object right to the receiver. There are no points for good hustle.
  2. If you throw an uncatchable throw, the receiver gets a point.
  3. * Optional. Some kids like to catch the ball and then hold onto it while they tell a longwinded story about Minecraft. To this end, if a passer holds onto the ball or frisbee for two long–as determined by the referee–everyone else but the passer get a point. Typically this foul is approached with a warning, maybe two, before being enforced. This is to teach kids not to hold the frisbee and just stand there talking for two minutes every time, something children are apparently naturally prone to do.

The “point” of the game is to teach kids to throw accurately and catch balls and frisbees that come right to them.

The first one to 11 is the winner. Repeat as desired and necessary. Kids seem to love winning and loathe the idea that they’re not doing it right, so this method works so well your children should realistically be banking Major League Baseball salaries within 10 – 15 years. Or at the very worst, you’ll enjoy more time with them.

Enforcing the Rules

The second “point” of the game is that, in sports, there are referees. I, the dad, am always ref. I believe myself to be fair with my kids, I prefer none of them to the others (well, our piping hot out of the oven newborn is my favorite, but he’s not playing–or even crawling–just yet), and I don’t care about winning at all. I only care about them learning to throw the ball to me so I can toss things around for fun without constantly walking to pick something up. I don’t want to play, “Go Pick Up that Football.” I want to play catch.

Therefore, mom or dad are the referee, and also typically a player.

This also helps teach your kids, if you have multiples, that in sports you should focus on your own performance and not be so worried about calling out teammates or the other side. It’s all about actually teaching that, “you’re supposed to be having fun” part of games.

That said, a referee isn’t necessary if you keep the rules as simple as possible. If you have to run for a catch, that’s easily not a catchable throw — so if you choose to do that, touch it but don’t catch it, you are A) awesome and B) giving the thrower a free point more or less.

This game is best played at a campsite but other acceptable courses include non-busy parking lots, city greens, your grandma’s backyard and–assuming you have a lot of expensive, antique vases–with a bowling ball in your living room.