How to Play Yard Twister

If you are looking for a cheap, inexpensive game to add to your repertoire of backyard fun, try making your own custom version of the popular game Twister.

Twister not only is a great ice breaker game, but one of the best party games of all times. It is easy to make a version for your home or yard so that guests, kids, and friends can laugh and having a great time.

one hand on blue circle, another on a yellow circle playing Twister

What is Twister

The party game of your youth has an interesting history full of pretzels, controversy, late night talk show hosts, movie stars, and millions of laughs.

Twister, according to The National Toy Hall of Fame made its party game debut back in 1964.

Reyn Guyer came up with the inspiration of using people as game pieces when he was in the process of developing a shoe polish ad campaign.

With the help of Charles Foley and Neil Rabens, who were artists and toy developers, the first Pretzel game was invented.

Unfortunately, that name was taken so they changed it to Twister.

Twister Gameboard, Pieces, and Equipment

Twister has changed little since its inception.

The gameboard is a big, rectangular vinyl mat (usually 67 inches by 55 inches) with a grid of different color dots.

The dots come in four colors, traditionally red, blue, yellow, and green.

On the mat, each color has a row of 6, making 24 dots altogether.

The only other piece of equipment in Twister is the spinner.

The spinner is made of a square piece of board and one plastic pointer.

The cardboard is divided into four quadrants.

Each of the quadrants are labeled with one of the following:

  • Left Foot
  • Right Foot
  • Left Hand
  • Right Hand

Each board quadrant also has a representation of each color.

How Many People Can Play Twister

Traditional Twister is usually played with 2-5 people, one of which is the referee.

Caution: If you have back issues or any health problems that are worsened by twisting, you should not play Twister.

However, most people, young and old can safely play Twister, even talk show hosts and movie stars.

In fact, Twister almost faded into obscurity had Johnny Carson and Eva Garbor not played a game while on the Tonight Show, bringing it to a nationwide audience.

How to Play Twister

To play Twister, roll out the mat on a flat surface with nothing sharp or bumpy underneath such as rocks, sticks, sprinkler heads, lawn gnomes, etc.

Although the game was originally thought up for a shoe polish promotion, it is recommended not wearing shoes as you play.

You don’t want anyone with shoes, boots or high heels stepping of fingers (it hurts).

Playing Twister with Two People

When playing with two people, the spinner is not used.

Players stand on opposite ends of the mat, facing each other.

  1. One player calls out a color, the other calls out right/left hand or foot.
  2. Players place hand/foot on designated dot (both players cannot use the same dot)
  3. Each player alternates either calling out color or hand/foot.
  4. The player that falls down or touches the mat with a elbow or knee loses the game.

Playing Twister with Three People

When playing with more than two people a referee is appointed who switches out after every round.

  1. Players take their places on opposite ends of the mat.
  2. The referee spins the spinner until it lands on a color in one of the four quadrants.
  3. If the spinner lands on a line, it is spun again.
  4. The referee calls out the color and hand/foot.
  5. Players place hand/foot on color, but can’t share the same dot.
  6. The game is played until one of the players falls down or illegal parts of the body touch the mat.

Playing Twister with Four People

Follow the directions for three people, except one person is facing from the top part of the mat.

Playing Twister with Teams

When playing Twister with teams, each team should have two members each.

It is not recommended to have more than two teams.

  1. Each team takes their place on their respective side of the mat.
  2. The referee spins and calls out the color and hand/foot.
  3. Each person must place their hand/foot on designated space.
  4. Teams are allowed to share dots.
  5. When when member of the team falls down and/or touches the mat with elbows or knees, they lose.
Several red, blue, green , and yellow twister circles.

Making Your Own Twister Game

Although Twister games are generally inexpensive to buy, you can create your own custom version at home.

All you need is chalk, vinyl, paper, tape, or other markers in four different colors.

Choosing Colors

To begin with, choose four different colors.

If someone you are playing with is color blind, consider using colors that they can easily distinguish.

For information about what different colors of colorblindness and how to accommodate them, check out

Choosing Materials

When choosing a material to make your Twister game, consider the surface it will be on.

If making a game that will be played on a hard surface, such as cement, choose something that will be soft for skin to touch, such as vinyl, cardboard, or foam posterboard.

Make sure that the mat or pieces won’t slip.

If you are playing on a softer surface, such as grass or dirt, you can either tape off spots with Xs, spray washable paint, or other removable markers.

Creating a Mat or Individual Circles

Depending on your available materials, you can choose to make a mat with the playing spots, or cut out and place individual circles.

It is NOT recommended to use a large sheet of paper for one large playing mat, since it will easily tear.

However, if you have access to an old rug, table cloth, or vinyl, they will work well to make a Twister mat.

If none of those options are available, you can cut out individual circles out of paper, cardboard, poster board, etc.

How Many Dots or Circles

The great thing about making your own version of Twister is that you can increase it’s size so that more people can play.

As long as there are at least two spots per color per player, you can expand the game to whatever size you need.

Making a Spinner

To make a spinner:

  • Find a square piece of cardboard or poster board.
  • Punch a hole in the center of the cardboard/poster board
  • Using a marker, draw one line cutting the board in half vertically and another cutting the board in half horizontally.
  • In the center of the board, draw a large circle that passes through each quadrant.
  • Divide the portion of the circle in each quadrant into four (or how many colors you are playing with) sections.
  • Color or right the name of a corresponding color on the playing mat in each small segment of the circle in each quadrant.
  • When you are done, each quadrant should have sections labeled color one, color two, color three, and color four.
  • Label one quadrant Right Foot. Continue by labeling quadrant two Right Hand, quadrant three Left Hand, and quadrant four Left Foot.
  • Cut out a thin cardboard arrow and place a hole in it at the non pointing end.
  • Attach it to the square cardboard with a roundhead fastener.
  • Check to make sure it can spin, making adjustments if needed.

Different Versions of Twister

Not only can you customize your Twister board, you can also customize the rules for a fun Twist on this classic game.

Here are some fun ideas to take Twister to the next level:

  • Instead of using the standard hand and foot body parts, switch them out with elbows, knees, heads, and even derrieres.
  • Turn on some music and try to choregraph some dance moves using the board.
  • Have a contest to see who can make the best human pretzel.
  • Have endurance contests to see who can stay in one spot the longest.
  • Give challenges to players while they are in awkward positions, such as push ups, how low can you go, playing one handed, etc.

Fun doesn’t have to be expensive or put you in a twist.

Break the ice and not the bank by getting or making your own version of Twister.

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