What Is Needed for Slip and Slide Kickball? (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Slip and Slide kickball is a fun outdoor activity for kids and adults to enjoy, and you only need a few things to set it up. So, if you want to learn more about what you need and how to get your game set up, keep on reading!

Here are the things you need:

  • 4 slip ‘n slide sets (or 4 x inflatable pools with 4 plastic drop cloths)
  • Tarp stakes (around 20 tarp stakes should be good)
  • A kickball
  • A bottle of dish soap (if the game goes long, you may need several bottles)
  • Spray paint to mark the baselines for running
  • Lots of water! It’s best to have a continuous flow of water for the pools, so a hose is a good choice
  • Some cardboard for under the drop cloths (or slip ‘n slide sets) 

The above items are everything you need, but now the game needs to be set up. It’s best to follow a guide when setting up your slip-and-slide kickball game, so keep reading to learn more about getting it all ready.

An image of Happy kid water playing in a backyard on a Hot summer day.

How Do You Set up a Slip and Slide Kick Ball?

The completed setup of your game should look like a diamond. You should have a pool at each corner, and the drop cloths should be connecting them all together. It’s also important to leave some space at the side of the pool at the home base; this gives space for ball-hitting.

If you don’t want to buy four pools, you can just use one and keep it at the home base. This works fine, but it’s more fun to play with four pools. Keeping the hose flowing with water is essential for the best experience, but you can turn it off every now and then if you don’t want to use too much water.

Now, let’s take a look at the step-by-step guide to setting up slip-and-slide kickball.

Step #1. Choose an appropriate location

For slip-and-slide kickball, you want to make sure that you pick an area with flat terrain and grass. You don’t want to set everything up on concrete or another hard surface; this would likely cause injuries.

Choosing an area with grass and flat terrain ensures that the game runs smoothly, so this is an important step!

Step #2. Setting up the drop cloths (or slip-and-slide sets)

The next thing you need to do is set up the drop cloths. Make sure each one is straight and positioned correctly, and that there is some free space at the home base section. For better safety, you should also put some cardboard under all the mats.

Then, you can pin them down with the tarp stakes.

Make sure the stakes are pounded down well so they don’t become a trip or injury hazard. This is especially true if everyone is playing barefoot (so as not to damage the slip-and-slide part of the kickball game).

Step #3. Fill up the pools

Once the drop cloths are secured in place, you can put the pools at each corner and fill them up with water.

People will be jumping in the pools throughout the games, which means a lot of water will spill out; therefore, it’s best to have a continuous supply of water!

Therefore, having access to a hose is a good idea. That way, your game will have plenty of water.

Step #4. Pour water and soap over the drop cloths

Next, you should make the drop cloths slippery. You can use different things for this, but the best one to use is soap because it’s the safest. Pour it all over the drop cloths and mix it up with water.

Adding oil is a popular option according to other online sources, but adding oil to a slip and slide in my experience just makes things too slippery, and then the oil gets all over the yard, slip and slide, and area where you’re playing a game. That can get dangerous for everyone quickly.

Plus, oil and water don’t really mix without an emulsifier, so then you either end up with an oily patch in your yard or you attract unwanted visitors (and pests) thanks to the oil.

So go with a small amount of dish soap. A little bit goes a long way, and you still get the best slip possible without it getting too slippery or crazy.

Step #5. Spray paint the bases and test out the setup

You will need to spray paint the bases, foul lines, and the pitching circle. For this, you can use any kind of spray paint.

Once that’s done, the pitch is ready! All you need to do now is test it out and make sure the drop cloths are fully secure. You also need to make sure everything is wet enough; it won’t be as fun if it’s not!

You may be tempted to do the lines before laying down the slip-and-slide sets – that’s also an option. It may help you lay out the sets better, but it will also increase the overall amount of work you have to do.

After all, it’s not too hard to lay out the slip-and-slide sets in a straight-ish line.

An image of a Boy On A Slip And Slide.

How Long Does it Take to Set Up a Slip and Slide Kickball Game?

Setting up a game of slip-and-slide kickball may take one person 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the complexity and size of the field. Setting the game up can go faster with more people helping.

It may seem obvious, but it’s important to make sure you have enough space for the drop cloths and pools. Once you have all the required equipment, it should take between 30 minutes to an hour to set it all up.

Another important note: when setting up the game, it’s good to have more than one person helping. The more people who can help, the quicker you can start playing!

However, having 6 family members set it up can also take longer. Too many chefs in the kitchen, and all that.

What Kind of Oil Do You Use for a Slip and Slide?

Slips and slides can be made more slippery with things like baby oil, vegetable oil, dish soap, and laundry detergent.

If I had to use oil for a slip-and-slide, I’d use the tiniest amount of baby oil possible. This is because it’s less likely to attract pests and rodents to the area after the game than edible oils (like vegetable and olive oil) are.

And then I’d switch to dish soap as soon as I could during the game so that the field (including the slip and slide sets) gets cleaned up without leaving tons of baby oil all over the field.

It’s important to note, however, that soap is the safest option because it leads to fewer injuries. Safety should always be an important consideration, especially with kids involved, so using soap is recommended. Any laundry detergent or dish soap works well for a slip-and-slide.

Another important note is to be aware of where you’re playing. Some playing surfaces or fields will be more damaged by oil or soap, so use what’s most appropriate. Also, if you’re playing in a park or an HOA-managed area, make sure you’re following any rules applicable to that park.

What Is the Best Way to Make a Slip and Slide Slippery?

The best way to make a slip-and-slide slippery is with a combination of soap and water. You can use oil, as mentioned above, but it’s not the best.

Soap makes the surface slippery, but not to the point where it’s dangerous. When it’s mixed with water, the level of slippiness is perfect. Not to mention soap always smells good, so that’s a bonus!

Just don’t use too much soap, as too much soap could damage the grass or field where you’re playing. Use just enough to slip things up, but not soo much that everyone can’t stay upright.

An image of a young boy sliding down and splashing on an outdoor slip-and-slide. Make a great expression and have fun on a warm summer day.

Slip and Slide Kickball Rules

Now that you’re all set up and ready to go, you need to know the rules of the game. So, read on to find out the slip-and-slide kickball rules.

Don’t have a kickball yet? Make sure you get the right size ball: What Size Kickball Should You Get And Use?

Keep in mind that you’re likely going to be adjusting the required clothing during the game, too. The best way to play slip-and-slide kickball is by having everyone wear a swimsuit and either be barefoot or wear water shoes (sometimes also called boat shoes).

How many teams are there, and what is the duration of a game?

Slip-and-slide kickball is pretty much the same as regular kickball, just with the added water and soap component. A typical slip-and-slide kickball game lasts six innings, but if there’s a tie, the teams must play until there is a winner.

Just like regular kickball, there are two teams in a slip-and-slide game. You may need to make changes to players’ ages, skill levels, and how much water is in the field. 

We’ll cover the basic rules of kickball here, though if you want the full rules, make sure you read our article on them here: Kickball Guide: How to Play, Rules, and FAQs.

Pitching and kicking rules

The pitcher needs to remain within the pitcher’s circle. They can only leave after the ball has been hit. Additionally, when the ball is crossing it should roll rather than bounce. The ball must be kicked, and it’s best to avoid using your hands or arms. Only feet and legs can be used to kick the ball.

Strikes and foul balls

In slip-and-slide kickball, a strike is when a kick of the ball is missed. If you miss a kick three times, you’re out of the game. A foul ball occurs when a ball goes out of bounds, and after three fouls, a player is out.

Additionally, a kicker is out straight away if another player catches the ball before it touches the ground, no matter where it is.

Water bases

The only difference between regular kickball and slip-and-slide kickball is the slippiness. In slip-and-slide kickball, players must run along the drop cloths to reach the next base. If, however, this proves to be too strenuous and slippery, players can run beside the drop cloth and just jump on at the base (the inflatable pool).

An image of a girl Sliding on a slip and slide outside, kids being kids, water and movement.

Why Are My Slip and Slide Not Slippery?

There are a few reasons why your slip and slide might not be slippery. Firstly, you may not be using enough water. Having enough water to mix with the soap is essential, otherwise, it won’t be the right consistency.

It’s good to pour more water over the plastic sliding areas (whether it’s a slip-and-slide set or the plastic tarps) every now and again, otherwise, it might dry up.

Another reason it might not be slippery is if you’re not using enough soap. It’s best to start small with the soap, though you may end up needing more. Because while water alone can make it a little slippery, you also need some soap!

Just keep in mind that a little bit of super-concentrated soap goes a long way. If you’ve got more bubbles than the ability to see players, then you’ve probably got too much soap!

Additionally, you want to make sure that you’re using the appropriate tarp or drop cloth.

  • Plastic is best because it doesn’t absorb water.
  • Materials such as cotton and linen will absorb water and won’t be slippery no matter how much soap (or water) you add.

So be sure you have the right materials.

It could also be a combination of not enough water and not enough soap. So, make sure you’re using the right amounts of each!

Maintaining the Pitch During the Game

There is some maintenance required when playing slip-and-slide kickball, but it’s nothing too much. One important thing to check occasionally is the tarp stakes. Sometimes, the stakes might move up from the ground.

The stakes becoming dislodged could cause injuries:

  • defensive players could get foot injuries when running to defend a base from runners.
  • players running to bases could also get injured if they go off course at all while sliding.

So be sure to check the stakes regularly.

Making sure the pitch is wet enough is another requirement. During the game, players will naturally move the water around and splash it everywhere. If there is some water loss, the game won’t be as fun and slippery.

Be sure to keep checking the water levels in the pools and across the drop cloths. If you’re adding more water to the drop cloths, you may also want to add more soap to balance it out.

Too much water, though, and you end up playing in a totally muddy field where sliding becomes impossible or just impossibly dirty. So finding the right balance may take some work, time, and practice.

An image of Twin brothers using the slip-and-slide on a summer day.

Have Fun Playing!

Now that you’ve set up your slip-and-slide kickball game and learned all the rules, you can enjoy playing! The finished product should consist of four drop cloths connecting four pools, and everything should be super wet, soapy to your preferred level, and slippery.

Hopefully, this article was helpful, and you learned everything you need to know about setting up a slip-and-slide kickball!

Next, read our article What Size Kickball Should You Get And Use? That way, you’re totally ready for any kickball game – whether it’s got slip and slides or not.


Learning from your own experiences is important, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.

  • “Baker University Intramural Kickball Rules.” Baker University, www.bakeru.edu/images/pdf/BL_undergrad/Intramurals/Kickball_Rules.pdf.

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