Play Tri-Pong

Rainy days at cottages are the mothers of invention. This week’s Backyard Badge goes to Rob Shirkey for introducing me to the awesome game of Tri-Pong. A couple years ago, while visiting his cottage near Minden, Ontario, Rob taught us how to play this simple, yet exhausting version of ping pong.

A big difference from your average ping pong game is that the players are working together, not against each other. Another big difference is that the game is played with 3 players (as the name suggests), not 2 or 4.

Here’s how it works:


Will gets ready to run to the other side of the table in an intense game of tri-pong.

  1. To begin, two players stand on one end of the table, with the third player on the opposite end.
  2. One of the players on the side with two people serves as you would in a normal game of ping pong.
  3. The server then runs around to the other side of the table as the player receiving the serve hits it back and then runs to the other side, where the third player hits the ball back and runs around, and so on and so forth.
  4. What you’ll have is the players constantly running around the table in a circle as the ping pong is hit back and forth over the net.

In short, every time you hit the ping pong, you have to run to the other side of the table in time to return the next volley.

It makes for a wicked and dizzying workout (especially after a few beers). The goal is to see how many volleys your team of three can make before someone fails to return one. And then try to beat your personal best or challenge another team of three to beat your record.

A great twist on an old school game. Love it.

What unique variations of games have you invented or played?

Backyard Badge - Things to do close to homeThe Backyard Badge celebrates creativity, imagination and finding adventure close to home. Share your own awesome experiences by visiting the Submissions Section. Or add your stories, photos and videos to the Badge of Awesome Facebook Page.

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Josh is the creative force behind Badge of Awesome, where he noodles and doodles about life and the lessons learned from it. He's the author of Simply Blunderful and creator of The Overcoming Obstacles Toolkit.

5 thoughts on “Play Tri-Pong

  1. Dan Martin says:

    At the school where I teach, students are in charge of organizing and running intramural activities this year. They have started with an old-school favourite: Dodgeball. However, they have introduced numerous variations on the game to keep the activity fresh. One version is simply called Dodgeball World Domination. The gym floor is divided into four quarters instead of two halves, and the players are distributed equally among the quarters. When play begins, a player can hit any opponent in any of the three other quarters. Once a player is hit, he or she must join the team that just hit him or her.

    A point will come when only one player remains in a quarter. Once that last player is hit, she joins the team that just hit her, and that team gets to spread out over that new quarter that they just annexed. Now, that team controls two quarters of the gym, not just one (think of the game of “Risk”). Play continues until one team dominates the entire gym or until the players all drop from exhaustion. This version is very fast-paced and keeps all of the participants active throughout the entire game. No player is ever “out”; they are just compelled to shift their allegiance from one team to another.

    Not that Josh would know anything about allegiance, as he demonstrated in spectacular fashion last summer during a similar game of world domination. Sorry, is this message accessible by the public?

    • Josh says:

      Listen, when Josh Martin makes an alliance in Risk, you know you can trust it. My word is like oak… until the first moment said alliance becomes inconvenient. Then it’s more like the cheap particle board you find in Ikea furniture.

      Dodgeball World Domination sounds awesome!! I want to play.

  2. Leon Jackson says:

    Josh, I am in final stages of completing a book that describes over 130+ racquet and Paddle sports that are played around the world and Tri-Pong is included in my book. I had been in correspondence with the as part of my research and provide a lot of details regarding the game. The one area that I am deficient in is photographs of individuals playing Tri-Pong and I wanted to know if you have any photographs that I could use in the book that depicts individuals playing Tri-Pong?

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