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Bike has become a much popular vehicle among the kids and there are children who can not even think their daily life without a bike. The is in fact a balance bike that is given to the children for riding at their early ages. Balance bike is for learning how to balance without much risk of falling down form it while in riding. Unlike other bikes that are ridden by the adults, there is also wood made balance bike besides metal one. Many parents find it as a dilemma when they go for choosing which made, wooden or metal, to be bought for their child. Everything has its pros and cons. The best way for choosing a thing is possible by knowing the good and bad sides of it. For this reason, we are here to show you the positive and negative sides of wooden balance bike so that you as a parent can pick up the best balance bike for you and your child.

Pros of Wooden Balance Bike

Wooden balance bike first of all has a great look and finish. The overall look of a wooden balance bike is in a word awesome. The children as well as the parents love this type of balance bike at the first sight.

Most of the wooden balance bikes are made of Birch wood which is of high quality wood and have certification for FSC. FSC is the acronym for Forest Stewardship Council. So you can rely on the quality of the wood that is used I making this kind of wooden bike.

The natural color of wood is very attractive looking. There are also some painted versions of the bike and color sticks to the wood surface perfectly.

The handle of a wooden bike becomes straight which is a boon for the toddlers for griping it well. Most of the wooden balance bikes cone with wheels without spokes that are better suited for the children.

Do not think that the weight of a balance bike is very low, rather it has almost the same weight as a metal balance bike.

Cons of a Wooden Balance Bike

Apart from the positive sides, this bike has some negative sides too. Though the wood is of very good quality, it is never be water proof. Some of the wooden bikes are guaranteed for water resistance, but it does not mean that recurring water contact will not do any harm to a wooden balance bike. High humidity of weather can also cause damage to a wooden bike.

Wood can never be an alternative to hard metal for sturdiness. The rigidity of a metal balance bike must be better than that of a wooden bike. So a wooden balance bike is more vulnerable for breakage with a hard hit.

Finally the balance bike that are made of wood can be chosen when you are sure that your child will not take it to a rough place. Above all, listen to your child and give his voice the highest priority.

Featured Post

People often feel bad not to go on mountain on bikes with others. For this purpose they tend to go along and enjoy alone. There is a team that may be divided by the team of sports. Many people desire to get the accurate bike for the mountain and to get the right choice for it and considered it as their hobby. You may check for the best mountain bike under 1000.

It is essential to know all the benefits related to mountain biking. You can get more information from the article and the main reasons discussed below. You need to handle the situation and the scenario properly and maintain proper restrictions when going for the mountain biking.

  • Different views about mountain biking:

People have different views related to mountain biking and that may also lead to misconception. You must search for appropriate information for the mountain biking that may help you to get clarification related to mountain biking. You may also search for the videos that especially designed for the mountain biking and are helpful for giving certain information related to mountain biking that will be easy to clear about the misconceptions.

It is better to know little then arriving home with the broken bones and scrapes on arms and legs. Or sneezing all around and leading dangerous life to death. If you are not having life insurance policy then you must not take such risk for your life that may also harm you and your bike and it leads to damages to your body that is inappropriate and definitely will be not useful for you and for your family.

You must check for the proper counseling that may help you to get Better Mountain biking to be done.

  • Expectations that are not managed properly:

Many people forget how to ride bicycle as they may have done this activity at their childhood but this is not an issue. You may check for the training and managed this ride accordingly. Never try it on the mountain at first before practicing. This may not benefit you and also may harm you.

You must take precautions with you as it is not useful to get yourself damaged by not getting proper treatment if you get hurt on the trails.

You may make simple rules for your trail that may help you to get help from it. You may get more harm by the encouragement as it may help to know about your capabilities and the main thing for riding. You must keep yourself managed for facing anything on the trail and must stay ok with it.

Get the best of it and practice more for your hard work that is essential to be made. On trail there must be no problem that may harm you.

  • Doing things that make you feel crazy:

You must check for the mother mountain bikes that how it works. This will help you a lot to do the best of it and you may learn more from this thing as well. Watch even fake biking through the mountains that may also guide you properly.  You must have skills that are impressive and also talent that will not harm you and will make you go all crazy and definitely help you to get the best of it.

Get the latest videos that may help you to learn more and also it will guide you to get the work done properly when you are travelling with your family and friends.

  • Good to learn more than implementing:

You must first learn and then implement when travelling with friends and family. This will help you to get the right thing done and it will harm less as well.  For the purpose of exposure you must take along with you SO who may easily come up with this and also you may go on the deserted area through the trails. You must take off the fear in you and your members who are going for trail as this is essential task to be done and this will not allow you to get the ride done properly.

You must first practice then go for the mountain biking as this is a good way to learn more about it.

  • Intentions may be hurt by the egos in you:

This is not the good factor that is mostly seen in the women when they are teaching to their men.  This can lead to the other way too. This is not helpful when climbing through the hills and people may not find it good as well. This may often lead to physical injuries as well. Click here to check for the latest articles that may benefit you for them mountain biking and its usage.


Kamloops, British Columbia, will host the 1993 Canada Games Aug 8 through 21, 1993. Over 4,000 athletes will participate in the 18 sports that are featured in the games. Kamloops spent $20 million to get ready for the games. Handicapped athletes will also compete.

The City of Kamloops is marking its centennial in 1993, and every province and territory in the land will share in the celebration, at the 14th Canada Games, August 8 through 21.

And as the Canada Games torch is lit in British Columbia for the first time since the 1973 Summer Games in New Westminster and Burnaby, there will be more to celebrate than just the birthday. These will be uniquely progressive Games.

Some 4,000 athletes, 400 officials and 500 coaches will take part in 18 sports. And for the first time, athletes with a disability will be integrated into the program as part of the main event. Full medal status will be provided for blind athletes who will compete in swimming and track and field and for wheelchair athletes who will compete in track and field.

The Kamloops Canada Games have a budget of $20 million with nearly $10 million of that dedicated to capital expenditures in creating the best sport facilities in the Interior of British Columbia. The Federal Government, Government of British Columbia, and the City of Kamloops are the primary funding partners. The private sector continues to be a significant supporter of youth and amateur sport as the 1993 Canada Games Society have teamed up with some 16 Corporate Sponsors and Suppliers to help make the dreams of Canada’s young athletes a reality.

Among the many lasting sport legacies will be Hillside Stadium. Located at the University College of the Cariboo, the Stadium will feature opening and closing ceremonies and track and field competitions. Adjacent to this Olympic calibre 8-lane track and fieldhouse will be the new Canada Games Aquatics Centre, the crown jewel of the sport facilities. The Olympic sized pool will have leisure and rehabilitation features added after the Canada Games to service the community. Some Softball competitions and the Rowing, Sailing, Water skiing and Canoeing events will be located in communities of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, where residents have provided financial and volunteer support. Rugby, a popular sport in B.C., will benefit from a new complex.

You’re invited …

  • Kamloops is located in a beautiful valley at the meeting of the North and South Thompson Rivers in the Interior of the province. Home of 65,000 and growing, Kamloops and residents of the Thompson Nicola Regional district are getting ready to welcome thousands of tourists who will be visiting the area for the Games. A force of almost 7,000 volunteers includes two very special greeters.
  • They are twin mascots, a pair of coyotes named Buttercup and Cactus. Their distinctive names reflect a western flavour that is more prairie than Pacific Coast. Cattle drives are typical fare for Kamloops, a city that has its own official branding iron – a smiling heart next to a big “K”. Kamloops is an easy 3 1/2 hour car drive from Vancouver on the Coquihalla Highway, and just six hours from Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway.

“Kamloops and region is proud to be hosing the 1993 Canada Summer Games. Our community has worked extremely hard over the past five years: We’ve received 100% community support and we’re ready to provide our nation’s best young athletes with an “Experience of a lifetime” and to share our warm western hospitality with all Canadians,” Vic Poleschuk, President of the 1993 Canada Games Society says.

More Than Just Sports

Preparations are also under way for the largest participation of native peoples in any Canada Games. In support of the Games, the Kamloops Pow-Wow, a native cultural pavilion, a major rodeo, and an inaugural Traditional Games provincial championship are being planned by the native communities.

Have you been spending more time in physical education class lately? If so, you’re not alone.

Across the country, many states are increasing physical education (PE) requirements in response to some unhealthy statistics. The number of overweight adolescents has tripled in the past 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first time in U.S. history, members of the current generation (that means you!) could have shorter life spans than their parents will.

That’s scary stuff. Maybe even scarier are the results of a study from Cornell University, which revealed that increasing time spent in physical education doesn’t necessarily produce a healthier, more fit student body.

The fact is, traditional PE activities (think team sports such as kickball and floor hockey) don’t always amount to a real workout and often aren’t activities that motivate kids to continue on their own.

All that is starting to change. A number of schools have started to increase not just the quantity but also the quality of time teens spend in PE class. The new approach is about giving teens the tools they need to keep fit long after they graduate. Here, we profile four schools that are leading the way to give physical education the ultimate makeover.

Water Works

Carl Sandburg Middle School, Levittown, Pa.

Carl Sandburg students know that some of the best ways to stay fit happen in the water. They learn the basics of canoeing and kayaking by paddling around the school swimming pool, and many then take those activities to the great outdoors. “I like kayaking because it is a lifelong activity that you can do at any time and at almost any age,” says Bridget, 14. And Jen, also 14, prefers to work out in the water: “Water aerobics energizes and refreshes you…. [It is] a fun way to exercise and stay in shape.”

Back on land, a program in orienteering teaches students the basics of navigation–including map reading and the use of a compass–in an activity that exercises their bodies and minds. Instructor Terry Martian says that she and her fellow teachers “hope that students will find activities that they enjoy and then choose to do those for the rest of their lives.”

Always Time For Fitness

Hortonville High School, Hortonville, Wis.

  • What’s the best day of the week to get fit? At Hortonville, Workout Wednesdays give students the chance to build muscular endurance, strength, and flexibility though a series of targeted exercises. Students can receive a computerized “Fitnessgram,” which helps teens set individual plans to work toward achieving and maintaining a “Healthy Fitness Zone” throughout the semester.
  • Fitness at Hortonville doesn’t stop when the school day ends. The Cardio Room–where students can use treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes and even play Dance, Dance, Revolution–remains open after classes let out. “It’s like having our own fitness club here at school,” says Jessica, a 17-year-old senior.
  • If that’s not enough, archery, bowling, and fly-fishing are just a few other activities in which teens can participate. “I hope students remember the fun they had in the classes,” says teacher Marcia Schmidt, “and will participate in [these] activities long after they leave school to be healthy adults.”

Surf On Turf

A. G. West Black Hills High School, Olympia, Wash.

Do you think you need to live near the ocean to go surfing? Think again. In phys ed class at Black Hills, experts in a new sport called street surfing–a combination of snowboarding, skateboarding, and surfing–teach teens how to “surf” on solid ground by riding a wave board. While they’re at it, students work core muscles and improve their balance. Freshman Shelby Kostelecky enjoyed the activity so much that she now uses a wave board at home.

Teens here know that staying active outside of school is important. A student organization called the Fit Club organizes Friday night activities, such as badminton. There is also a 5-mile after-school run. “I started out thinking I could never run 5 miles,” says Fit Club president Katherine Swarthout, a senior. “Now, I’m planning to run a half-marathon.”

Easy Pickings

Seaholm High School, Birmingham, Mich.

At Seaholm, PE is all about choices. Students begin by mastering the basics (individual and team sports, weight training and heart-rate monitor training, aquatics, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation) in a course called Personal Fitness. Afterward, they can pick from an array of electives with serious real-world value.

Students who choose the American Red Cross lifeguard-training course can complete all the requirements to become certified lifeguards–including using a heart defibrillator–during school hours. Sophomore Amanda Smith used her certification to land a summer job at a local country club and made a life-saving rescue less than three weeks later. “It served as confirmation that my training was so much more than a good grade,” she says. “I was entrusted with the skills needed to save another human being.”

Scuba diving is another awesome elective. Students master nearly all the skills necessary to become scuba certified, and they learn a thing or two about marine biology and underwater photography. Daniel Mead plans to use the skills he gained to become a scuba instructor and commercial diver. “My interest in scuba has increased with each dive I make,” says Mead. “After completing my first open water dive … I knew I had found a hobby I could enjoy for the rest of my life.”

10 Ways to Keep Fit Outside School

If your school’s phys ed program just isn’t enough for you, combine fitness with fun by trying the following activities after school or on weekends.

  1. Go for a nature hike at an outdoor recreation center.
  2. Take the family pet for a walk or jog.
  3. Get some friends together to adopt a highway, park, or beach to keep it clean.
  4. If it’s raining, head to the shopping center and take part in a mall walk.
  5. Enter a “fun run” or a walkathon for a good cause.
  6. Design and build a fitness trail for your local community.
  7. Check out the facilities at the local Y or recreation center.
  8. Gather a group and head to an indoor ice or roller skating rink.
  9. Participate in a martial arts class.
  10. Put on some music and dance your way through your weekly chores.

In 1894, a French aristocrat and teacher by the name of Baron de Coubertin founded the International Olymlic Committee (IOC). De Coubertin believed that athletics were an important part of a person’s education, and he dreamed of an international contest in which athletes from around the world could compete together. With that in mind, the committee proposed to re-create the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. The IOC decided to hold the first modern Olympics in 1896–just two years later–on in Athens, Greece. Two hundred and forty-one athletes from 14 nations participated in nine different sports, including cycling, fencing, and wrestling.

With three exceptions, the Olympics have been held every four years since. No games were held in 1916, 1940, or 1944 due to the World Wars. The first Winter Olympic Games were in 1924 and likewise have been held every four years, again with a break for World War II, until 1992. In 1986, the IOC voted to alternate the Summer and Winter Games every two years, rather than in the same year. Thus the Winter Olympics were staged again in 1994 and have been played every four years since.

Sports in The Olympics

Today, there are 28 sports in the Summer Olympics and 7 in the Winter Olympics, all of which are subdivided into particular events. For example, athletics, an event better known as track-and-field, consists of more than 46 specific events. Among them are the women’s 100-meter race, the men’s javelin throw, and the women’s marathon. Not all sports have as many events. For example, archery has only four. Some sports, including canoe/kayak, are segregated into different disciplines–flatwater and slalom, for example–that are then broken down into events.

Over the course of modern Olympic history, a few sports have been added and then removed from the program. Among these are golf, lacrosse, and polo. Most were added in 1900 but withdrawn early in the 20th century for various reasons. Sports that are not especially popular in the United States, such as cricket and jeu de palme (a type of French handball), also made a few appearances. Tug of war was played in five Olympics as part of the track-and-field competition, but disappeared after 1920.

Because the maximum number of sports allowed by the IOC is fixed at 28, the IOC periodically reviews the full program and votes whether an individual sport should continue to be played or not. Two sports that were included in the 2004 Olympics-baseball and softball–were removed from the program for the 2012 Summer Olympics. This means there is room for two new sports in 2012.


The IOC maintains a list of sports from which it can draw new ones. Events are proposed from the list and then voted on to reduce the pool to two nominees. For 2012, the IOC selected karate and squash as potential additions. However, to be recognized as an Olympic sport, each nominee must then win two-thirds approval in yet another round of voting. In the case of karate and squash, both failed to receive the necessary votes.

Anyone can be an Olympian-as long as he or she is an excellent athlete. The IOC recognizes various international federations, each of which organizes qualification events for a particular sport. Each country’s national Olympic committee sends athletes to the qualifying games. The best athletes from these events then represent their countries at the Olympics.

  • Since the first modern Olympics in Athens, cities across the globe have hosted the Games, from Antwerp (1920) to Mexico City (1968) to Sydney (2000). In 2012, London will become the first city to host the Olympics more than twice-it previously hosted the games in 1908 and 1948.
  • Sites are chosen in a two-part selection process. First, applicants are reviewed to see if they can meet basic needs such as accommodations, transportation, and security. Once approved by the IOC’s Executive Board, the applicants are considered candidates. For the 2008 Olympics, only five cities-Beijing, Istanbul, Osaka, Paris, and Toronto-of the original 10 applicants passed the first Stage.
  • In the second part of the process, each candidate submits a formal bid to host the games, and an evaluation committee visits each city and writes a report. After. studying the reports, the IOC votes to choose the site of a particular Olympics. Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Olympics.
  • The IOC also recognizes two organizations that sponsor international games for disabled athletes. These Paralympics have many sports in common with the Olympics, but are aimed at handicapped athletes whose disabilities are primarily physical. The Paralympics also include modified sports such as wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. Both Summer and Winter Paralympics are held shortly after the Olympic Games, using the same facilities in the same cities.

The Special Olympics are designed for people with intellectual disabilities. Like the Olympics, the Special Olympics are an international competition held every four years. They. also include sports such as track-and-field, soccer, and volleyball. The motto of the Special Olympics is based on a prayer of the gladiators of ancient Rome. Today, more than 2,000 years later, the motto remains a good one for athletes everywhere:

Let me win. But if I cannot win,
let me be brave in the attempt.

Your clients don’t have to head to the south of France or Portugal to enjoy a sporty break. We find out how operators are offering holidaymakers a wide range of sporting experiences here at home

With the 2012 Olympics just round the corner and rugby union, rugby league and possibly football World Cups also heading to these shores, the UK is set to go sports-mad over the next decade.

And domestic operators are lining up to make the most of this potential burst of activity by offering customers an array of opportunities to improve their skills while on holiday.

Hoseasons is set to announce details of its specialist sports programme this autumn, and has revealed that it is due to work with the governing bodies of six different sports to offer training breaks at its holiday parks.

Although the six sports are being kept a closely guarded secret, Hoseasons chief executive Richard Carrick says they will all be Olympic events looking to raise profile and participation numbers.

  • “They are keen to get people to try these sports, so we are looking to run a programme of holidays in parks where guests can have a go,” he says.
  • “We will make it easy for agents and customers to narrow their searches to focus on particular activities, and the expansion will make Hoseasons the biggest provider of sporting breaks in the market.”

Hoseasons is already no stranger to active breaks, offering a range of sporting activities as well as “Extra” packages for those who take a serious interest in selected sports.

Other operators are also targeting customers who want to improve their skills in anything from golf to rock climbing.

So where can you send your customers if they want to get active on holiday?


  • At Hoseasons parks, customers can try out: watersports, archery, badminton, basketball, cycling, fencing, table tennis, squash, and adventure sports such as white water rafting.
  • “Extra” facilities are offered for golf, horse riding, tennis and swimming.
  • The operator’s new range of training breaks is due to be launched this autumn and will be available for 2010 holidays.

Haven Holidays

Equipment and facilities for five-a-side football, basketball and rounders are provided free of charge at all parks. Mini-sports for kids aged three to eight are also free.

Clients can pay an additional charge for lessons in activities such as scuba diving, tennis and football coaching – these vary at different locations. New pool-based activities for this year are Family It’s a Knockout (free of charge), “water walkerz” (see-through globes to walk on water) and turbo paddlers (pool pedalos).

Climbing walls or rope courses have been added at Golden Sands, Thorpe Park and Primrose Valley. For keen golfers, recommend Haven’s Seton Sands Park, near the famous Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield Open Championship courses.


Guests at Butlins’ three resorts have access to more than 50 free activities. Sports including basketball, football, kwik cricket, netball, rounders, trampolining, volleyball and short tennis are provided for.

There are also lessons in more unusual activities such as cheerleading and circus skills. At Butlins Minehead, there are horse-riding and fly- fishing options out in the Exmoor countryside.

Warner Leisure Hotels

There are various Warner Leisure Experiences which cater for golfers: Sinah Warren in Hayling Island, Hampshire has a Complete Beginners Experience, while for the more advanced, four Warner hotels offer the Swing Build Golf clinic created by top coach David Blair. Participants receive a DVD of their new swing. Clients can try sailing and canoeing on the lake at Cricket St Thomas, or sailing and kayaking on the Yar estuary at Norton Grange. Warner’s Sinah Warren property also offers a weekend of real tennis, as played by Henry VIII, from a qualified coach. All experiences are on selected dates.


Pontins parks have plenty of free activities, including five-a-side soccer, basketball, cricket, badminton and volleyball. Kids can have swimming lessons and aqua aerobics for free. Quad-biking, zip-wiring, climbing, abseiling and trampolining are offered at a rate of #10 for three sessions.

Horseshoe How-to Pitch Perfect

Can’t hit the broadside of a two-cargarage with a horseshoe? Take a master class from Walter Ray Williams Jr., the Michael Jordan of bowling and horseshoes, as he’s often called. Williams, a four-time Professional bowlers association Player of the Year and six-time world horseshoe, offers these pointers:

  1. THE PITS: Preferably clay. Soft clay cushions and grabs the shoe (unlike sand, dirt, or grass) when it falls to the earth, making it more likely to hold the thing onto the stake.
  2. THE GRIP: Most people — picnic players, Williams calls them — have been taught to hold the curved back end (picture a capital letter U) and flip-flop the shoe toward the stake. You’ll get better results with a rotation like a slow-turning Frisbee’s, be it clockwise or counterclockwise. The shoe should rotate one-and-one-quarter or one-and-three-quarters turns before it hits the stake. For a right-hander throwing one and a quarter: Hold the shoe with your thumb on top and the tips of your fingers below. The open end of the shoe should be to the left.
  3. THE PITCH: As you swing back your arm, rotate your hand until the shoe is vertical, with the open U facing backward as it passes your hip — this is a 90 degree counterclockwise turn. At the same time, step forward two to four feet with your left foot. As you swing and the shoe passes your leg, rotate your hand back to the position it was in before. That’s where the rotation comes from, not the wrist. And put some mustard on it you’re throwing the thing almost forty feet. Don’t worry — all this sounds more complicated than it actually is.
  4. THE FOLLOW-THROUGH: Reach for the sky, and, for Pete’s sake, be a little bit graceful. You don’t want to look like Roger Clemens out there. THE RESULT: Ninety percent ringers, world championships, a bevy of horseshoe groupies.

Croquet How-to If You Had a Hammer

It’s not the croquet you’re thinking of, the six-wicket brand. It requires “a keen eye and steady swing married with the tactical requirements of billiards and chess on a quarter-acre lawn,” says Stephen Dimond of the British Columbia branch of Croquet Canada. But you can use his pointers for playing the backyard game.

  1. THE STANCE: Almost always facing the target, with mallet between the legs, except for the side swing, used for a roll shot after roqueting (in English, that’s “hitting”) a ball, Keep the toes behind the mallet head.
  2. THE GRIP: The split reverse palm, with hands up to a foot apart, is most comfortable for newcomers. Or try a Solomon grip, with one hand directly on top of the other and the knuckles toward the target.
  3. THE SWING: From the shoulders, straight toward the target. Your wrists and elbows should be all but locked.
  4. THE SHOT: Eye on the ball, and don’t crowd it. “Some players will practice a few swings, bringing the mallet up into the line between ball and eye, then set the mallet still, followed by the shot. Others will swing the mallet back and forth and, when ready, strike the ball on one of the travels forward, without pausing the mallet.”

THE STRATEGY: “Don’t hit another ball if you can’t do anything with it. And it’s only a game. Stay relaxed.”

Badminton How-to Two in the Bush Means You Need Practice

All Peter Simon really wanted was a varsity letter. So he and a group of friends joined the badminton team at his high, school as a joke. And there the trouble began. Today, Simon heads the badminton club at Harvard (motto: Non est picnicum) and thumps the tub for competitive badminton, not the backyard variety. (Badminton non est lawn sport.) Nevertheless, Simon deigned to share a few pointers:

  • THE GRIP: Imagine somebody just put a dead trout in your hand. Imagine grabbing the trout. Bingo — the badminton-racket grip is as easy as a handshake or squeezing a dead fish. Lower your shoulder, drawback your elbow, and prepare to whip your wrist.
  • THE STANCE: “Never on your heels. On the balls of you feet, knees bent, ready to take off in every direction at once. Try to look intimidating.”
  • THE SERVE: Mostly defensive — this isn’t tennis, people. It’s got to be hit underhanded, from below the waist. “The key is to not have your serve killed.”

THE STRATEGY: Keep your enemy on the run; make him move. Don’t hit the shuttle right back where it came from. “This sport uses both delicate, well-placed shots that might just drop over the net and 15-mile-per-hour-plus smashes. Power usually doesn’t set up the point — it clinches it.”

Which is why, perhaps, a sport in which more players wear barbecue sauce than white has become increasingly popular. In fact, it doesn’t get more populist than horseshoes; look at how country-clubber George Bush the Elder burnished his common-man image by pitching. Horseshoes doesn’t get more minimalist in terms of equipment, either:two pairs of two-pound ten-ounce horseshoes and two pieces of pipe with thirty to forty feet of green space between them.

You can grab a set at the same place you get two-stroke motor oil and baby wipes, pick up some catfish nuggets on the way home, and in no time have an appreciation for what a Zen-like experience horseshoe pitching really is.

But to get good at it? Thousands of hours of solitary practice. It looks so simple: Throw the shoe so it rings on the stake. But achieving that goal can require much sacrifice, young Grasshopper, because if you want to pitch shoes with the big boys, the world-champ-grade boys, you’ll need to throw 80 to go percent ringers — roughly three times better than your average big-league baseball slugger. Men have been known to erect lights in their yards for the sole purpose of practice-pitching into the night, because this is a game you can’t win without ringers. (Ringers are worth three points; shoes within six inches of the stake or that lean against it are good for only one. The first player to get to forty wins.) The quest can rob you of sleep, make you old before your time. It’s best not to endeavor to get that good at it.

For some, horseshoe pitching — even in its elitist circles — has too much of a shuffle-board-of-the-backwoods vibe going. Fortunately, there’s one more game: badminton. Unfortunately, you’re probably going to actually break a sweat if you play even moderately well. A possible offsetting benefit? You get to say shuttlecock a whole lot.

The Badminton

Curiously, badminton has a rep of being for sissies, but the game’s roots are in precolonial India, where it was called poona. When the Brits showed up, they appropriated the game after discovering it was just too damn hot to play five straight sets of tennis and then go out and suppress the latest insurrection. (The game, by the way, takes its name from Badminton, the country estate owned by the Duke of Beaufort, where it was first played in 1873 — don’t say you never learned anything reading Esquire. And badminton, like sherbet, must be one of the more commonly misspelled words in the mother tongue.)

Like horseshoes, badminton looks like less work than it is if you want to play it seriously, which should be discouraged. The lightweight (a mere five grams), oddly balanced shuttlecock can turn or drop on a dime, meaning you’ll be diving an over the place before long in an effort to escape perhaps the ultimate humiliation: having to admit you lost a game of badminton. Which is going to happen anyway. You’ll be having a friendly backyard match when suddenly somebody from the Chinese Olympic team will show up with his Kevlar-and-graphite racket, and you’ll be left blind with disgrace. Or maybe it’s just feathers in your eye – a shuttle can rocket off a pro’s racket face at two hundred miles per hour. (They don’t call it the world’s fastest racket sport for nothing.)

Speaking of bitter contests with Olympic athletes, we left Karlos and Kathy and Rose locked in an unresolved death match a few hundred words ago, didn’t we? What happened was this: Rose was consistently sharp throughout, but age and gin and tonics took their toe in the end. She faded. Kathy, however, proved a tougher opponent, matching Karlos knock for knock. A little more than halfway through the game, Karlos took an Olympic-sized whack at Kathy’s ball, sending it into the Great Abyss.

As Kathy fought her way back into our ZIP code, Karlos’s karma faltered. He blew a couple of cheapo strokes. He began to look perplexed, as if a natural law had been repealed. There was sweat on his upper lip and a growing furrow in his brow. We spectators were nothing less than riveted. Our brats burned; our neglected beers got warm. Kathy took a drag on her Misty and eyeballed her shot, a lengthy, impossible drive toward the last stake. Some of us saw a wink. Then there was a sound like a cannon firing, followed by the thwack of Kathy’s ball against the stake. She had slayed the mighty Olympian. Karlos composed himself enough to grab a brat and enjoy the rest of the barbecue. It was, he pointed out, just a game.

Extreme sports? Make it coroquet or horseshoes or badminton. You sweat less, relax more, and won’t fall off the mountain just ’cause you’ve got a beer in your hand.

This all happened in Des Moines, not a place you’d think of for a rendezvous with destiny. It happened four years ago this month at a backyard picnic to mark the anniversary of the flood of `93 — the one that wiped out the city’s water plant so nobody could flush for two weeks. It happened at the end of one of the five or six perfect days Iowans enjoy each year — heat and humidity retreating, sky giving up that purple majesty, bratwursts turning brown and hissing on the grill. Nobody seemed interested in wandering too far from the ice-covered keg of cold American lager except for the half dozen croquet players. And two of them were about to make a little history.

Kathy and Karlos

Their names were Kathy and Karlos. Kathy, in her late thirties, a Minnesotan by birth, temperament, and physique, drank beer and smoked Mistys. Karlos, twenty-four and on the Olympic bobsled team, carried himself with the confidence known only to jungle cats and perfect physical specimens. It started out as a relaxing nine-hoop game. The object: to cheerfully knock the colored balls through the wickets in the proper order and back again, hitting the two stakes at either end of the run. Things started innocently enough, with a flurry of good-natured trash talking. Kathy was heard to utter a threat — something about “kicking some Olympic ass.” Still, it was lighthearted. The players were silhouetted by the setting sun; we heard laughter, balls knocking into other balls, occasional cheers. Everything was as it should be. And then, all of a sudden, it was a three-way nail-biter between Karlos and Kathy all a seventy-year-old woman named Rose.

This, my friends, is as extreme as croquet gets. And for that, it is to be lauded. Really, now. After a week’s worth of office treachery followed by a Death Race 2000 commute, how likely is it that you’re going to snowboard down Rendezvous Peak? Or rock climb in the `Gunks? Or mountain bike across the Moab desert? Not very likely. No.

See, the ancients had it right. In antiquity, leisure time was actually used for leisure rather than proving one had testicles the size of cantaloupes. There are no hieroglyphics of Egyptians hang gliding from the Sphinx. The Greeks never tacked a NO SKATEBOARDING sign to the Parthenon. Know what people did then? They relaxed. And there’s no better time to revive that tradition than this month, when the heat summons a certain torpor and men need to conserve strength for chest-thumping displays of patriotism like bending over to slip a Fourth of July bottle rocket into an empty budweiser. Yes.

Let’s talk backyard barbecue and backyard sports.

Let’s talk games wherein the object is not necessarily to win but to avoid spilling one’s beer. Let’s talk the holy trinity of backyard-barbecue leisure sports-croquet, horseshoes, and badminton.

First, croquet, whose mallets, it seems, have always gone hand in hand with glasses of lager. In the 1890s, drunkenness and debauchery were so bad on the Boston Common’s croquet grounds that the city’s religious leaders railed against it. The teetotaling preachers didn’t stop the game, but time and other pursuits (like watching golf on TV) managed to slow it down. Likewise a knot of East Coast players who, about twenty years ago, championed the six-wicket game, the more intricate, competitive version of what until then had been a perfectly good slob’s sport. Played this way, the pastime – which mimics the polite world of tennis but with hammers – has been frightfully successful: About ten thousand people now call themselves six-wicket boys and use custom-made equipment on precisely groomed lawns measuring 105 by 84 feet. The wickets, unlike those in the backyard game, are so narrow you’d have trouble sliding a quarter through them sideways; the balls are bigger, too. And if you play, you wear white. Seriously.