Uses a 2.375-inch diameter pole, ensuring high-quality performance. Pole placed 24 inches into the ground for maximum stability. Finished set has a 10-foot pole. Rubber-covered regulation-size ball performs well in a busy play area.
Price for this set is higher than others. Permanent installation only.
A basic, value-priced tetherball set for children that's easy to install and can be temporarily removed. Assembly is straightforward, and the included pump is convenient. We like the forgiving softness of the ball, which makes it ideal for younger children.
The thin steel is fairly flimsy, making this set unsuitable for rougher play.
Pole is 18-gauge galvanized steel. Resists rust when exposed to all kinds of weather. Pole measures over 10-feet tall with a 1-foot in-ground pole sleeve that allows for removal. Regulation-size ball is soft but stands up to rough treatment.
Rope may fray after several uses. Pole may wobble at joints.
Portable. Works on any type of surface. Regulation-size ball has a soft feel that kids love. Steel pole and base resist rust and stand up to all kinds of tough weather. Thick pole has 2-inch diameter. Works well with rough treatment.
Set only will work outdoors. Base could tip if someone leans on pole.
Plastic PVC ground sleeve allows you to pull the pole out of the ground for storage as needed. 3-piece pole is easy to connect and set up. Pole has more than 10-feet of height. Powder-coated pole stands up to the weather. Includes high-quality rubber ball.
Overall system can be wobbly. Some parts won't stand up to stress.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
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.
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.
Tetherball sets may be portable, permanent, or temporary.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When considering the height of a tetherball pole, remember that part of the pole will be in the ground.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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