Wardipedia – 30. Fun indoor sports

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Crazy golf and friends


A traditional English summer day, with plenty of rain? A group of elderly patients? A bunch of young patients? Protected engagement time? All an ideal opportunity for some indoor sports.

We pitch a load of ideas below, and our bias will soon be evident. . There are the classic snooker and darts (obviously the magnetic, Velcro or equivalent varieties!) But we’re nuts about improvised indoor crazy golf (using safe alternatives to gold clubs, of course). The name itself could keep the ward occupied all day discussing how mental illness is described, stigma, discrimination. Or better still, just crumple up a few newspapers and grab some long-handled umbrellas and you’re all set for tee off!

An  (almost) Alphabet of Indoor Sports Activities

A–   Alphabet hunt – scavenger A-Z. Vary containers, points etc, Alternative darts, using pinged rubber-bands, blobs of blu-tak or rolled up sticky-tape. And alternative scoring systems.
B –  Blow football – straws and ping-pong balls, beer Mat Quoits + alternative quoits and targets, Beanbag toss – make a beanbag out of any container (eg sandwich bag) and dried beans, pasta, anything without sharp edges or knockout capabilities, beatboxing
D–  Disco Divas musical statues. (And adult version of musical chairs??), Dance game – sort of I went to the market and packed…. But with cumulative dance

F–  Fashion show from ‘found’ objects, stuff lying around – anything other than clothes, Fruit boules
G–  Guess what it is – objects in pillowcase. Variation – person has to describe it, others guess. Guess the object. Take close-up photos of places and objects around the ward.
H–  Hoopla, horseshoe toss, Hoopla – any study container (eg tall milk carton filled with water… or milk) and cardboard cut-out hoops or rubber quoits, Hook a duck (little waterproof toy can be stuck underneath or each duck hooked gets prize)

Hula Hoop Challenges, Activities, Games:

  • Who can keep a hula hoop going the longest?
  • Who can do the most hula hoops at a time for at least 10 seconds?
  • Crazy Fun – See how much people can fit in a hula hoop.
  • Hula Hoop Ring Toss – See who can ring an item 10, 20 or 30 feet away!
  • Hula Hoop Roll – Who can send a hula rolling the farthest?
  • Hula-hoop relay

I– Invent a game
J–  Just a minute, jenga
K– Keep it up – keeping ball/balloon in air
L–  Lounge hockey (umbrella and orange)
M– Miniature golf (see below), Moves. (or gentler movements for older people.)
N– Newspaper Scavenger hunt – have to find the adverts, articles, names, photos etc on the list. (Er, you obviously have to create the list first…)

O–  Obstacle course, Office chair obstacle course
P–  Paper planes, perpetual motion – cumulative balls added, can be thrown, rolled, bounced etc, Pencil javelin, Paperclip games:

  • The longest chain
  • The fastest disentangling of a chain
  • The best paperclip pictorial representation of the ward manager
  • The highest tower

Q– Quiz
R–  Reminiscence games eg shove ha’penny, Coin curling, Races – spacehopper, egg & spoon, fancy-dress relay
S–  Skittles – filled water bottles, citrus fruit, Koosh balls, foam balls etc, Synchronised musical statues – mirror what your partner is doing, then freeze. Snooker.
T–  Tiddlywinks
V–  Velcro or magnetic darts
W–  Wastepaper basketball – scrunched up paper, waste paper basket

Ideas for Prizes etc

  • Kinder-Eggs
  • Stuff from 99p shop
  • Post-season chocolates & gifts (post-easter, valentine’s day etc)
  • Ask for contributions from visitors, staff etc including unwanted (but pleasant!) gifts they’re received
  • Gifts made by patients in arts’ sessions

Indoor Crazy  Golf

Who needs manicured rolling lawns when you can improvise with squeegee bottles and loo roll innards? Here’s a slightly random bunch of ideas for creating your very own ward indoor crazy golf course.

  • Kit ideas
  • Rolled up newspapers
  • Cardboard tube (or taped together loo rolls!)
  • Plastic indoor hockey sticks
  • Cardboard trees and bushes as decoration and obstacles
  • Uneven ground with crumpled newspapers, pillows etc underneath a sheet of fabric
  • Holes
  • Cans lying on their sides
  • Different sizes – pots, waste baskets etc.
  • Prizes
  • Fastest, most stylish, holes in one, slowest…
  • 19th hole – refreshments, entertainment, conversation
  • Other improvisation
  • One-handed, using whistle and stop-watch
  • Bean bag golf
  • Greens can be on different levels – chairs, tables, stairs
  • Water obstacles

Ward examples

  • Improvised space hoppers!! Perfect for the exercise-reluctant patient (or member of staff). They use giant gym balls for corridor races and, creatively, had a competition to see who could drink best while balancing on these. When Marion and Buddy visited, staff were messing around on the ‘space hoppers’, one fell off, and a person with learning disabilities who hadn’t spoken since being on the ward roared with laughter and said “You must get that on the Internet!”
  • Spontaneous Frisbee game, using a paper plate!
  • Ping pong fever gripped the city as part of a month-long sporting festival to celebrate the 2012 Olympic games. Dozens of table tennis tables have gone up at landmarks across the city for the public to use. Including several in the day unit at a mental health hospital for inpatients to enjoy! Ping organised this event in conjunction with local councils: http://pingengland.co.uk

Patient Examples

  • I got really good at table tennis and won a mini tournament organised by the therapeutic liaison worker. It was the first time I had won at anything and it felt great. I now belong to a local table tennis club.
  • My all time favourite ward activity was rounders. We would play it indoors with soft balls when it was raining and everyone came together as a group. Always turned a bad day into a great one.
  • When my anger rises I go to the gym and run as hard as I can. It puts my anger back in a place where I can control it.

A little note from Marion Janner (founder of Star Wards)

One of my most memorable hospital visits was when Buddy and I went into a ward for older people – and there wasn’t a single patient there. We were redirected down the corridor, and it was easy to find everyone, by following the peals of laughter. In the hall, two lines of patients were seated, facing each other, and in the gap between them was a feisty game of indoor hockey. Sticks were a-sailing, plucks were a-flying, and spirits were soaring. The most fascinating aspect was that every single person was actively taking part, even if only to give the puck a tentative tap.


My MiniGolf‘ is the first crossover “play anywhere” golf game. One places the obstacles randomely on the ground and the game is ready to play. My MiniGolf is suitable for almost every level surface, like grass, tarmac, carpet or parket floors. The challenge varies with the playing-surface. Scoring is just like any other Minigolf. About £250


Other indoor sports kit


Mini Carpet bowls

Indoor curling! The warm alternative.


Categories: Activities, Wardipedia