Best Summer Games – A Top Five List

What better allows you to be a friend, teammate, competitor, host, and inspirer of happiness than summer lawn games?  Well, there probably are other things that lend better to those roles, but heck, summer games are fun and can bring together a family and friends!  I remember, in my younger summers, sitting in a low, striped polyester beach chair in the back yard, holding a glass of iced lemonade to my nape and watching my cousins blow bubbles in the sun.  That child, hot and bored, wished for something a bit more exciting and fifteen years later, I happily present to you, the top five backyard games for this summer.

5. Badminton

An Odd Garden Variant of TennisCarlton Shuttlecock

If you haven’t seen the game of badminton before, you’re missing something extraordinary.  Reminiscent of 19th century England, the game consists of lightweight racquets, a net, and the illustrious shuttlecock.  The (usually nylon) feathers of the shuttlecock provide drag so that it decelerates much quicker than a ball, which means, no out-of-the-park home runs for any over-excited players.  Hit the shuttlecock in the air over the net until it hits the ground!  Easy to set up in the back yard or in a park, lightweight, and affordable, badminton is a great way to involve anyone and everyone.  Cheerio!

Try the Franklin Elite Series 4 Player Badminton Set

4. Volleyball

Sick Dig Bro! Wilson Softplay Outdoor Volleyball

Another net game, volleyball is an incredibly fun way to get some exercise.  Setting and spiking competitively or leisurely tossing the ball back and forth, this game works for everyone.  Learning this game also can have advantages when you come across a game of indoor volleyball, beach volleyball, or even water volleyball.  Make some memories this summer with family games of backyard ball in the sun.

Recommended volley ball set – Park & Sun Spectrum Classic

3. Toss Games

Did You Say Cornhole?Bean Bag Toss - Cornhole Game

At my desk, there isn’t much in this world more enticing than being outside with some buddies, baseball game on the radio, and tossing a bean bag with a cold beverage in my free hand.  I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of relaxing and taking advantage of the warmer months.  Sometimes referred to as tailgate games, toss games are simple and require little set up.  Usually in the form of a bean bag, players toss the object underhanded at a target.  Rules depend on the game being played, but the simplicity and the game-day feel of toss games definitely put them on the top five summer games list.

Fun bean bag game for the family – Corn Toss by Sport Design

2. Croquet

Through the Wickets and into the Stake, Old Sport!North Meadow Scottsdale Croquet Set

With origins dating back 400 years, croquet can transport you through time.  Well, no.  But it is exciting, classic, and perfect for some backyard Saturday fun.  Whether you’re sporting knickers and argyle socks or some under armour shorts, any day with reasonable weather is a perfect day for croquet.  I had fun playing this ball and mallet game as a kid at my grandparents’ house in Maine and this summer I will be definitely getting into some croquet mischief, putting on an English accent, creating new rules, and competing feverishly with my young nephews.  Undoubtedly a winner, croquet is perfect for backyard hangouts.

Best seller –  North Meadow Scottsdale 6-Player Croquet Set

1. Horseshoes

Summer Just Got a Bit LuckierWD Horseshoe

Albeit strange, pitching oversized shoes of a horse is cool.  Ancient Grecians tossed them when they couldn’t afford a discus.  Soldiers threw mule shoes in Union Camps during the Civil War.  Abounded in history, horseshoes is a game everyone knows and playing it is easier than ever today.  All you need is two stakes and some horseshoes to pitch.  The skillful pitch of the shoe is not something that demands tremendous physical ability, which makes it perfect for players of all ages.  Backyard or in the sand, horseshoes defines the summer as the epitome of relaxing, fun, and memorable!

One of the best horseshoe sets around – WD Horseshoe Co. Glory Set

Now, where’s my lemonade?

By Isaac Clark

Isaac is a Lemonade Lover at Sports Unlimited.

Product spotlight: Croquet anyone?

croquet

Let’s face it, there probably hasn’t been a time in your life when you’ve thought, “What I really wish I had right now was a nice croquet set.”

But there are some thoughts we have all the time – especially as summer approaches.

“How am I going to take advantage of this nice weather?”

“What am I going to do with the people coming to my barbecue this weekend?”

“Someone get these kids out of my house for an hour.”

“I hope I don’t run out of ketchup.”

OK, you’re on your own with that last one. But the answer to some of your other summer dilemmas may be something as simple as a croquet set. And one of the most popular items we carry at Sports Unlimited is the North Meadow Scottsdale 6-player set.

While many of us have played the game at a grandparent’s house or seen a set stashed in the corner of a garage, croquet is probably not at the top of your summer activity list. Maybe it’s time to change that.

Think about it. The rules are simple, it takes little time to set up, you can play anywhere and you can easily talk, eat and drink while playing.

sportsunlimited_2258_1922588516
The North Meadow Scottsdale 6-player Croquet Set is made in the USA.

Other than the fact that its made in the USA, what makes the North Meadow Scottsdale set so appealing is its quality. One of our best-selling items, this set is built to stand the test of time. And if you’re going to be using this to entertain guests, your kids or your kids’ kids, you want something that’s sturdy and won’t need replacing.

That’s the biggest advantage to choosing a quality set like this over a cheaper version. It won’t start breaking and bending after a few games and years later, you’ll still have a usable set. The mallets are made of hard maple wood, which looks great and ages well.

Also – and very importantly – this set comes with a rule book. Without that, many of us wouldn’t even know where to start. But a quick scan of the rules will easily get you on your way. Then you can start setting up the  two 24-inch goal stakes and the nine square poly-coated steel wickets that come in their own storage sack.

After that, you can roll out the six colorful 3 5/16-inch balls and start whacking them with any of the six 30-inch mallets with  8 1/2-inch heads.

After a game or two, pack it all up in the nylon carrying bag and get back to manning the grill or taking an afternoon nap.

Odds are you’ve barely broken a sweat and accomplished your goal of getting outside for a little bit.

By Lou Rusnock
Lou is a writer at Sports Unlimited.

Colorful Kinesio Tape Stands Out at 2012 Summer Olympics

Kinesio tape is the colorful, bright, neon athletic tape seen on tons of Olympic athletes in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Designed to promote blood flow, support muscles, reduce fatigue, enhance performance, and lessen injury, this advanced, evolved, and stylish athletic tape has taken hold among the world’s top athletes.

Beach Volleyball Olympian Kerri Walsh Kinesio TapeThe 2012 Summer Olympics captured the hearts and attentions of spectators and fellow athletes across the entire planet. The pageantry, athleticism, and determination of this year’s athletes have left the world in a state of wonderment. But mostly, I’ve found people just wondering, “What’s with all the colorful neon tape the Olympic athletes were wearing?”

 

Olympic Javelin Wears Kinesio TapeI saw them too, on Olympic divers, sprinters, javelin throwers, and even draped across the shoulders of U.S. Women’s Beach Volleyball Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh. This bright neon athletic tape called Kinesio tape, or Kinesiology tape, made Olympic headlines this year, on athletes from almost every country, across almost every discipline! Their interesting colors and unique styles gave the athletes an extra bit of flair that couldn’t be ignored. The funny thing is, this innovative and stylish athletic tape has actually been around for decades!

Kinesio TapeDeveloped in the mid-1970s by Japanese chiropractor and acupuncturist Kenzo Kase, Kinesio tape is athletic tape evolved! Designed to mimic the thickness, weight, and elasticity of human skin, Kinesio tape, like those produced by SpiderTech, works with the body’s sensory system to promote blood flow, lessen muscle fatigue, improve rehabilitation, and reduce injuries. With their pre-cut and muscle-specific construction, you can target areas and muscle groups much more easily with SpiderTech Kinesiology Tape, than with any other type of athletic tape, zeroing in on the problem, and keeping specific muscles loose and in working order. Perfect for training or competition even at the highest levels, as our Olympic athletes aptly proved.

For years, Sports Unlimited has offered Kinesio tape by SpiderTech, for almost every area of the body, in all of the coolest neon colors available.

  • Elbow Kinesio Athletic TapeAnkle Kinesiology Tape helps to prevent shin splints, ankle sprains, and arthritis, and is perfect for runners, sprinters, jumpers, and team-sport athletes.
  • Lower Back Kinesiology Tape stretches up and across the lower back, preventing joint strain, disc injuries, muscle pulls, and painful spasms that can come from overuse in almost every sport out there.
  • Elbow Kinesiology Tape gives you relief from tennis or golf elbow, and muscle strain without restricting your movement in some of your favorite sports or activities.
  • Knee Support Kinesiology TapeGroin Kinesiology Tape extends down the muscle group, helping with groin pulls, weak or torn adductors, and muscle imbalance, perfect for runners or cyclists.
  • Hamstring Kinesiology Tape can be placed directly on the back of the leg for instant muscle support for strained or weak hamstrings, improving feedback and muscle timing.
  • Total Kinesiology Knee Tape is the ultimate leg and knee support system, designed to surround the knee cap with the supporting tape, to reduce arthritis, patellar tendinopathies, patello-femoral joint instability, ligament strains, and meniscal degeneration.

By Brandon Porter.

Brandon is a product specialist at Sports Unlimited.

How do you Find the Best Volleyball Set?

How to find the best volleyball set for you and your family. Look for a set that’s easy to assemble and breakdown, features a regulation sized net, and is appropriate for your budget.

The summer’s here, and it’s time to get outside with the family and friends! Now, you know as well as I do that nothing screams “summer” more than a little beach volleyball. But whether you’re hitting the sand or just looking for a friendly game in the backyard, you’re going to need a volleyball system to play!

Starting to look for a new volleyball set can get pretty confusing, with all of the selection out there and massive differences in price. You need to know that you’re getting exactly what you want, within your budget, and not going overboard or getting ripped off. With all of the variables and different volleyball systems to choose from, it can easily overwhelm you. So to help out, I’ve jotted down a few things to consider that can help make your buying decision easier.

1. Ease of Assembly and Breakdown

Park & Sun Volleyball SystemIf you ‘re like me, there ‘s been a time in your life where you ‘ve been the one in charge of setting up the volleyball net for the party. You go to set it up and the thing is just a mess. There are so many miscellaneous parts, strings and stakes tangled together that you ‘re not sure where to start.

Fortunately, most manufactures have smartened up and simplified the assembly process. No one does this better then Park & Sun Sports. From their top-of-the-line Pro Series Spectrum Classic Volleyball Set at $248.99, to their more affordable Sport Series Spiker Sport Volleyball Net at $72.99, every Park & Sun system comes with a heavy duty store bag with full zipper to make organization and storage a breeze.

Another great set that’s easy to set up, is the Cobra Volleyball Net System at $409.99. The Cobra does not require any guy wires to install.  This makes setup quicker and allows for safer play. The net easily adjusts to get firm tension on the net.

2. Size and Height of Net

Although there are different sizes to choose from, I always recommend going with a regulation size net. A regulation net is 39 inches tall and about 31 feet 2 inches in length. A good guide is to make sure the net is 3 feet tall and longer then 31 feet long.

volleyball4

The height of the net for men’s regulation play should be from the ground to top of the net, 7 feet 11 5/8 inch. For women it should be at least 7 feet 4 1/8 inches high. Some sets are manufactured with telescopic poles so you can easily raise and lower the net for men ‘s, coed and women ‘s play.

3. What do I get when I shell out more for an expensive Volleyball Set?

The more expensive sets have stronger, thicker poles to increase the rigidity (aka firmness) of the net. The posts are also made with better materials. Some used aluminum instead of plastic. This allows for better “ball out of net play”. I higher sticker price also typically gets you a better net. You get thicker tape on the top and bottom of the net and also the actual netting is more durable and of better quality. This again leads to better overall play.

I hope with these simple tips make your buying decision a little easier. If you have any questions, please click here for more information.

By Mike Neff.

Mike is the Director of E-commerce at Sports Unlimited.

Which Bocce Ball Set is Right For You?

How to find the right bocce ball set for you, based on your budget, needs, and skill level.

Grass Bocce BallBocce ball is a classic backyard or beach game. Easy enough for the little guys to learn, but challenging enough for even the most competitive of dad’s out there, bocce has been a favorite family game for generations!

But as simple as the game may be, finding the right bocce set for your next picnic can be anything but! So to help ease the process a bit, here are few
recommendations on how to choose the best bocce ball set:

What’s your budget?

A very well made bocce set will run you anywhere from $75 to $140. However, if this blows your budget, there are some great economical sets that range in price from $40 to $60.

What’s are the differences in bocce sets, and what am I getting for the money?

Summer Bocce Ball

The weight, construction, and materials of a set will dramatically affect the price and the play, so keep these in mind when on the lookout for a new one.  The higher-end sets all feature solid, one-piece construction, precision roundness and balance. They’re also typically made of high-quality composite resins, so they won’t warp or deteriorate over time, or due to weather conditions. More affordable bocce ball sets are typically made from plastic or wood. Generally, the weight of the balls shouldn’t determine the quality of the set, but keep in mind, that if it is very light (less than 920g / 107mm in diameter), you’re probably looking at a cheaper set.

Should I pay more for a good bocce ball set?

If you are purchasing a set for backyard play or for family fun, it’s okay to go with a lighter set between 100mm and 107mm. People usually buy the heavier sets is to get a truer roll and better feel of the ball. But when you’re in the backyard on uneven surfaces and bumpy terrain, the precision roll is not as important.  At $58.99 the Park & Sun 100mm Bocce Set is a great set for the beach or backyard. We also recommend the 107mm Franklin Classic Series Bocce Ball Set at $56.99 which offers a little more weight, for improved performance.

You may also want to think about getting a second set just for the kids! After all, when you have your favorite adult beverage in one hand and a bocce ball in the other, there’s no room for any kids. At your next backyard BBQ, the little ones will want to play too, so it might be a good idea to consider purchasing a lighter weight, inexpensive bocce set for them. Sports Unlimited has some great kids bocce sets on sale right now!

Is this party going to feature a bracket style, tournament level competition?

If you’re looking to show off your sick bocce skills to your old college buddies, than maybe you want to step up to a tournament set. Most tournament sets are played with balls 110mm to 114mm in diameter.  EPCO manufacturers some of the highest quality sets that are made in the USA. The EPCO 110mm Bocce Set is our number one selling Tournament Set at $119.99.

Most sets come with a carrying/storage case for easy transporting and protection.

We hope this helps you find the perfect bocce ball set for you. But if you have any questions about bocce, or any backyard game, feel free to give us a call at 800-693-6368!

Enjoy the party!

Mike Neff
By Mike Neff.

Mike is the Director of E-commerce at Sports Unlimited.

Best Horseshoe Sets for Your Game

Find the perfect horseshoe set for you and your family this picnic and summer season!

Picnic HorseshoesWhen shopping at most retail outlets you’ll find mostly “picnic” style horseshoe sets, as opposed to professional. Those picnic type horseshoes are also known as “recreational” sets, and it’s what you typically see at your backyard picnics or on the beach. Depending on your level of play, where you’re playing, and how competitive your spirit, we at SU will help guide you to selecting the best horseshoes for your game.

Some things to consider before purchasing your shoes:
American Professional Series Horseshoes
American Professional Series Horseshoe Set
$39.99

Who’s primarily playing?  Adults, Kids or a Mix of both? If you’re planning a picnic for teenagers or adults, it’s fun to go with a recreational, steel set. You get the real feel of horseshoes and the classic clang when hitting the stake. We recommend the American Professional Series Horseshoe Set by St. Pierre for $39.99. It’s a quality set that’s made in the USA and was designed by a former world champion.

Kids Rubber Horseshoes
Rubber Horseshoe Set
$19.99

If your kids are primarily playing with the set, or if you’re looking for something light and easy to carry down to the beach, then you might want to go with a well-made, rubber horseshoe set. Trust me, I know from experience that you want your kids playing with a rubber or plastic set. When they inevitably drop a horseshoe on your toes, you’re going to be thankful it’s not steel! For only $19.99 this Rubber Horseshoe Set is a great, pain-free choice, and can be used for both indoor and outdoor play.

 

Are you looking for horseshoes that are approved for NHPA, professional play?

If you’re considering entering a certified NHPA sanction tournament, or training for one, it’s important to understand that your horseshoes need to be approved by the NHPA. We offer a number of tournament horseshoe sets and horseshoes in various weights, colors, shapes, and prices. These shoes are manufactured by WD Horseshoe Company in Erie, PA so they’re all made in the USA and are of superior quality. All the horseshoes on our site are clearly marked if they are approved by the NHPA for tournament play. Our top picks for tournament approved sets are the Mustang at $66.99, the Bandit for $89.99 and the Glory for $119.99.

Happy Pitching!

 

By Mike Neff.

Mike is the Director of E-commerce at Sports Unlimited.