Best Tetherball Sets

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

14 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
91 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best tetherball sets

Last Updated November 2019

Tetherball is a classic playground game that you can easily put in your backyard. Unlike older tetherball sets, modern sets may be moveable or in-ground, and many sets have softer balls that don’t sting your hands quite as much as the older ones did.

Tetherball consists of a ball attached to a pole by a rope. It’s played by two people standing on opposite sides of the pole, with each player striking the ball in attempts to wrap the rope completely around the pole. The pole may be installed directly in the ground or attached to a moveable base, and this affects the price. Both setups work equally well, so you just need to decide whether a permanent or temporary installation is right for your yard. The height of the pole varies, as does the size of the ball. A shorter pole with a larger ball is generally better for young children.

Tetherball is an affordable and fun backyard game. To learn more about the different types of tetherball sets and their features, continue reading our buying guide. When you’re ready to buy, take a look at our top recommended tetherball sets.

Tetherball is a sport that requires no other equipment to play. The ball is attached to the pole, and all players need is their hands and a competitive spirit.

Key considerations

In-ground vs. moveable

The two main types of tetherball set are in-ground and moveable (or portable).

  • In-ground: These sets are installed in the ground either by inserting a sleeve into a hole in the ground for the pole or by securing the pole in the hole with cement. A cement base is the sturdiest option, but it has the obvious disadvantage that you can’t move the pole once it’s in position. In addition, most sets don’t include the cement needed for the job. Using a sleeve for the pole means you can remove the pole temporarily to mow the lawn or for other reasons.

  • Moveable: In these sets, the pole is inserted into a heavy base often made of plastic and weighted with sand or water to keep steady. These aren’t nearly as sturdy as in-ground sets, but the setup is far easier and the tetherball set can be moved to different locations. These sets are a good choice for anyone who cares about their yard because you can relocate the set when the grass begins to show wear.

Tetherball sets may be portable, permanent, or temporary.

Staff
BestReviews

Tetherball set features

Location

Carefully choose where you position your tetherball set, especially if you opt for a permanent installation. A tetherball set needs a circular area of at least 20 feet in diameter around the pole. Bear in mind that you need vertical clearance as well, so avoid putting the pole near trees or branches. In addition, you can expect the grass around the pole to flatten or even die if the tetherball set is used regularly.

Ball

Though traditional tetherball sets use a volleyball on the end of the rope, some smaller sets use a tennis ball that players hit with plastic racquets. The premise of the game is the same — wrap the ball around the pole in your direction — but the game has a different feel. These smaller sets are best suited for young children.

Height

Standard tetherball poles are ten feet tall, but some sets may be as short as five. The right height depends on the age, height, and skill level of the players. In most cases, the taller pole is the best option for players of a range of ages.

Materials

The materials that make up the tetherball set play the biggest role in the price and determine how long the set will last.

  • Pole: The pole is usually made of galvanized steel, which is sturdy and unlikely to rust. The pole may come as one segment or several smaller segments. While a pole with several segments is easier to store and transport, it isn’t as sturdy as a solid pole.

  • Rope: The rope is typically made of durable braided nylon. This is standard in most sets, but the thickness of the rope may vary. Since a frayed rope is the most common issue with tetherball sets, look for a thick rope that will hold up well over time. Replacing a rope isn’t expensive, but it can still be a hassle.

  • Ball: The ball should be made of rubber or nylon and be similar in size and weight to a volleyball. Rubber balls are soft but unlikely to last as long as a firm nylon ball. Look at how the rope attaches to the ball, too. If the loop sticks out of the ball, players could injure their hands when they hit the ball. Look for sets with the loop recessed into the ball.
EXPERT TIP

When considering the height of a tetherball pole, remember that part of the pole will be in the ground.


Staff  | BestReviews

How to play tetherball

Tether ball is played by two people standing on opposite sides of the pole. A line (sometimes imaginary) divides the play area into two halves. Players can’t cross this line during play. The goal of the game is to wrap the ball around the pole in your direction.

One player serves by tossing up the ball and hitting it with the palm or fist in the direction of their choice. This establishes which direction each player is attempting to wrap the rope around the pole.

After serving, the server can’t touch the ball until the receiver hits it or the ball wraps around the pole four times.

Either player may hit the ball any time it’s on their side of the line.

The player who completely wraps the rope around the pole wins.

Tetherball set prices

Inexpensive: Basic tetherball sets that cost $25 to $50 usually use a tennis ball and are played with plastic racquets. These are fairly short with a portable plastic base and make a good option for younger children. Some sets in this range may even be used indoors.

Mid-range: These sets cost $50 to $100 and range in height from five to ten feet and may be moveable or in-ground. Many sets in this range use rubber or nylon balls and have segmented or solid poles.

Expensive: In the $100 to $150 range are tetherball sets designed for permanent installation. The poles are usually solid galvanized steel, and the nylon rope is thicker than the rope on less-expensive models. This is the best price range for a playground tetherball set that will get regular use.

DID YOU KNOW?

There are few rules about striking the ball. As long as the ball is on your side of the court, you can hit it with your hand however you want, though you can’t touch the rope during play.

Tips

  • Use a post hole digger. This can be a useful tool when creating the hole for the tetherball pole. Expect the lawn around the pole to turn into dirt because grass won’t be able to withstand regular wear.

  • Consider sand. You can create a circle of sand around the pole to give your tetherball set a more attractive look. Tetherball can also be played on pavement.

  • Keep the ball properly inflated. This will help prevent injury and reduce the chance of the ball bursting.

  • Check the height of the pole. The length of the pole isn’t necessarily the height of the pole for play because a portion of the pole — usually about two feet — needs to be firmly anchored in the ground.

Other products we considered

While we think our top recommendations are the best tetherball sets on the market, there are a few other sets that use tennis balls and racquets that are worth covering briefly. For a simple backyard game that’s great for kids, there’s the Squirrel Products Swingball, which comes in three separate steel sections and has a weighted base that doubles as a carrying case. The spiral guide at the top of the pole helps the tether wrap neatly every time. For older kids or adults, there’s the Swingball All Surface PRO Set, which has a sturdier pole and larger racquets to accommodate older players. The base includes a score tracker, and the rackets can be stored on the pole itself.

Taller players tend to have an advantage in tetherball, but it’s a game that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

FAQ

Q. How safe is tetherball?
A.
Since it’s a low-contact sport, tetherball injuries are rare. The greatest risk of injury lies in being hit by the ball or getting rope burn if the rope wraps around your arm.

Q. Can tetherball be played solo?
A.
Yes. This is a great way to practice your serve, and it can be a great source of exercise.

Q. Is it better to install the pole in soil or cement?
A.
That depends on how soft the soil is in your yard and whether you’re okay with having a small area of cement in your yard. Removing the cement can be difficult, but if you have soft soil and want your pole to be as stable as possible, cement may be your best option.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

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