American Beanbag is one of those classic elementary school gym class activities that everyone should play at one point in time. Kind of like dodgeball with softer projectiles and no walls. Oh, and the dodgers get to throw down too. All sorts of hilarity ensues, I assure you.


  • A large bucket of beanbags, preferably somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 per person per team, although one can certainly tweak the numbers as they see fit.
  • Players. The more the merrier, up to a point (the point being when having such a large quantity of people in a given area becomes a fire hazard--use discretion). Traditionally, the participants are elementary school kids up through about third or fourth grade, but that doesn't mean that a group of college kids wouldn't have a blast playing it. Fifteen per side is a good number to work with.
  • A gymnasium or similarly-sized large room. It probably shouldn't be too big (a ballroom or professional-sized basketball court would probably be too lengthy), but a volleyball court would do nicely.


At the beginning of the game, all of the beanbags are lined up in a straight line going across the width of the court at what is determined to be roughly the center of the playing area. This is the midline that will divide up the two teams. Players from one team cannot cross the midline with their feet, although house rules dictate that reaching across with arms and such is acceptable.

The teams--hopefully equal, or close enough for government work--congregate on opposite sides of this center line, at least six feet from the midline. When the whistle blows, the flag drops, or whatever it is you choose to designate the start of the game, hell is allowed to break loose. The players are free to move as they choose, assuming they stay on their half of the court. They can run and jump and shout and do all sorts of crazy things, should they be so inclined. Many of them are.

The object of the game is to take a beanbag (only one is allowed to be held at any given time, mind) and, while keeping it low to the ground (below the knees is generally considered sporting, although crotch shots do occasionally happen--very little damage is done by the beanbag, however, so it's all good), throwing said beanbag at a member of the other team, hitting them. Should this happen, the player being hit is "out" and must sit on the sidelines until the game is over. The game is over when one side is completely benched.

In case the appeal of the game is not obvious, here it is: picture a group of thirty little kids (or not-so-little kids), armed with beanbags, whipping them at each other... all at the same time. It's chaos! Glorious chaos! Games generally go fairly quickly--ten minutes or so is the average--and then everything is set up for another go. Hours of fun, at least.

As for the name itself, it seems to be a misnomer. The only connections I can see between The United States of America and beanbags is that the beanbags--at least the ones I used to play with--are red, white, and blue. Why it's not called French beanbag or Norwegian beanbag instead... your guess is as good as mine. Or perhaps the beanbags are supposed to represent warheads. Oops, there I go again...

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