Gear: More ways to play on beach days

Summer's here, and you know what that means: Lying on the beach and ducking dozens of colorful rubber and plastic projectiles. If you can break away from your Corona and dog-eared copy of "50 Shades of Grey," get up and join the fun. Playing ball games that involve hitting and throwing build coordination and flexibility and burn calories like crazy. And when you've worked up a good sweat, collapse back on your towel. There's a great one reviewed here too.

Bad badminton


Speedminton Fun Set S70: The new racquet sport, invented in Germany, features an extra-heavy badminton-style birdie called a "speeder" (shown above) that can travel long distances.

Likes: Super fast, fun game. The heavy "speeder" birdie (9.2 grams versus 4.5 grams for a regular birdie) carries remarkably long distances at high speeds, making for dramatic power slams. If you play close, it's as fast-paced as doubles tennis. Easy to do, with or without a net, if you've played any racquet sport. Two racquets and three Speeders are included, with one a "Night Speeder" that lights up.

Dislikes: None

Price: $39.95. (877) 225-7275; or

Super towel

TowelMate Ultimate Beach Towel: Luxurious and massive, this 3-by-5.7-foot beach towel has a built-in pillow and zippered compartments for wallet, iPad, phone, sunblock and other personal items.

Likes: Big, colorful, thick and convenient. The 8-by-13-inch water-resistant pockets have hidden zippers to camouflage all your valuables. Now people have to steal the whole towel. A foam pillow removes for washing. Available in four prints. A smaller fitness towel is $25.

Dislikes: Not cheap for a towel

Price: $45. (855) 869-3568 (Towel-m8);

Never out of style

Pacific Sports Smashball: Venerable "beach tennis" with two wooden paddles and a small rubber ball.

Likes: You can't get any simpler (and cheaper) than this classic beach game, unchanged since the "Gidget" era: two thin, composite wood paddles and pingpong-sized rubber ball. A fast-paced skill builder, it encourages teamwork between you and your partner and challenges you to set new world rally records.

Dislikes: None

Price: $7.99. (877) 938-9455;


American tradition

Coop Nitro Football: Inflatable soft rubber 9-inch football with real fabric laces and a grippy exterior surface.

Likes: Easy to throw and catch, even when wet, due to great grip from the extremely tactile "Super Grip TPR technology Gription cover." Soft enough that it probably will not seriously hurt unassuming sunbathers when it conks them in the head. Small enough for everyone, even young kids, to throw a spiral with some degree of coordination.

Dislikes: None

Price: $14.99. (800) 889-7946;

Wallack is the coauthor of "Barefoot Running Step by Step" and "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100."