Introduction: 9 Square in the Air

Picture of 9 Square in the Air

A couple of teachers wanted to bring the typical youth group activity to life in the middle school. So we set out to redesign the game so we can have more kids playing at a fraction of the cost.

Step 1: Typical 9 Square in the Air

Picture of Typical 9 Square in the Air

The game is a 9 square that sits anywhere from 6 to 8 feet in the air depending on size and age of those who are playing.

The pieces needed are nothing more than connector joints and pipes.

Online the connector joints cost $339 and the the complete kit runs $799. A large investment for any church or school for a game that only allows 9 students to play at a time.

Step 2: Problems With PVC Pipes

Picture of Problems With PVC Pipes

The first design problem we encountered is there is no PVC joint that has 5 connectors. This meant we would have to find a way to connect our pipes differently if we were going to design our own.

Our solution was to take the vertical support and move to the midpoint on each square. This idea would solve two problems. The first of which is now we did not need 5 piece connector. We will discuss the other issued solved in a later steps.

Step 3: Size Vs Height

Picture of Size Vs Height

Knowing the squares themselves would be cut to put support pieces in to address the connector joint in the previous step, we looked at the access we had to PVC pipe.

We decided to go with 2 in pvc pipes that came in lengths of 10 ft.

Question is how big of square did we want, and what height?

We decide on 5 ft by 5 ft squares and that would be 7.5 ft high. These measurements saved us many cuts, and saved us on wasted PVC pipe, remember we are teachers and we are on a budget. We cut the 10 ft pipes into 7.5 and 2.5 pieces.

7.5 ft pieces serve as the support

2.5 ft pieces are the squares(with the connector joints we pick up a few more inches so the square is a little bit bigger that 5ft by 5 ft.

So we have a 25 sq ft box at a height of 7.5 ft. Good size for our aged range of 12-14 years old.


One size of pipe to order, one size of cut to make, and the build only works with 2 different lengths, either its a vertical 7.5 ft piece support, or its 2.5 ft. square piece. No confusion on the build.

We had to count up our pieces and arrived at:

24 7.5 ft pieces

48 2.5 ft pieces

A total of 30 , 10 foot pvc pipes will be needed for on 9 square in the Air game.

PVC 2" x 10 ft pipe cost $4.49 for a total cost on pipes $134.70 in PVC Pipe.

Now its time to take on the connector joints.

Step 4: The Build

Picture of The Build

Working from the inside out we began to piece our design together. We decided to add bushings onto the end of the vertical poles to provide extra grip as well as protection to the floor. We built the squares first and then with a few extra hands we were able to lift and support the square with 7.5 ft vertical poles. Its not a bad idea to glue a few of the connector joints but you will want to consider storage.

Step 5: Final Cost

Picture of Final Cost

30 PVC pipes 2in x 10ft at $4.49 per piece Total cost of pvc pipe $134.70

32 2in T connector joints at $2.48 per piece Total cost of T joints $79.36

4 2in 90 degrees elbows at $.95 per piece Total cost of elbow joints $3.80

24 2in Bushing at $0.84 per piece Total cost of bushing $20.16

FINAL COST : $238.02

Online cost : $799.00

Savings : $560.98


70% Cheaper

Step 6: How to Play

Picture of How to Play

9-Square in the Air Rules


1. The “king” serves the ball from the center square to any other square by hitting the ball up and out of the top of the center game square.

2. Players must return the ball to another player’s square.

3. If a player fails to return the ball to another player’s square, that player is out.

4. A double hit results in elimination.

5. During game play, players are not allowed to touch the game structure. Touching the game structure results in elimination.

6. When a player is out, they leave their square and move to the end of the line. The other players advance to fill the square of the player who just got out.


Players will compete 4 on 5 where team mates are staggered in a checkered pattern. Play similar to rally scoring in volleyball, players try and prevent the ball from landing in their square. The ball can be set into play by the team that scored last, or alternate turns. Game ends when one team reaches a set point limit. More players is not necessarily an advantage as it means you have more squares to cover. This style leads to setting teammates up to score points by incorporating passing between players.


ABMSP (author)2017-11-04

Asking for a middle school - does it scratch the a wood gym floor? Thank you

NateB73 (author)2017-07-10

have any of you made this game for elementary kids? what height would you recomend?

eubie137 made it! (author)2016-08-02 has all the 1-1/4" fittings needed (4-5 ways, 8-4 ways, and 4-3 ways) to build a 9 Square. I paid $50, shipping included. I could only find 20' sections of Schedule 40 PVC at the Do It Best Hardware With 20' sections and Making a 7'x6'x6' 9 Square I needed 14 sticks - cost = 153.86. Total cost = 203.86. We glued the fittings onto the overhead fittings so that we had all the fittings glued into; two bars with 5 ways on each end, four bars with 4 ways on each end, four bars with 3 ways on one end, fourteen 6' bars with no fitting attached. Of course, I had no fittings glued to the sixteen 7' legs (gravity keeps that fitting together). This allows us to break it down and store it easily. The fittings from Pipeworks are deep and allow the fittings to hold nicely to the overhead bars securely during play. When you glue two fittings onto one overhead bar, be sure that both downward facing joints are pointed in exactly the same direction. You will only get one shot at gluing them together correctly, no do-overs on that step. Have fun!

AmyW196 (author)eubie1372017-05-22

I am considering building this the same way. Has the 1 1/4" pipe been sturdy enough? Did you use 1 1/4" schedule 40? Do you secure the pipes into the fittings somehow (I'm imagining a drill hole with a pin in it)? I know you glued the fitting to some of the pipes, but there were many connections that weren't glued - do they stay together well during game play? Do you feel that 7' is a good height? What age kids do you play it with? Any other suggestions for someone who's considering building this? Thank you in advance :)

DanielY42 (author)2017-03-30

With the 9square website having two patents can I make your design legally? I love the design by the way (I'm a college student on a budget), I just want to make sure I can do it.

dblackford (author)2016-07-19

Anyone have a good idea on how to store it?!?!?!

JenniferC370 (author)dblackford2017-03-06

I bought upright drawstring christmas tree storage bags. They are sturdy and have handles. Largest i could find was 60" so the pvc sticks out the top but works great. I also bought a mesh sports bag to keep the connectors and ball in. Then i had an old metal upright shopping cart laying around that they fit perfectly in so i can roll them in and out.

JenniferC370 (author)2017-03-01

What size and kind of ball do you recommend? I've looked at Walmart and the balls they carry either seem too large or too small. I've also looked on Amazon but not sure of size. Thanks!

PeRoadrunner (author)2016-10-07

Anyone know of a permanent version of this structure? All metal for a playground that could also be hung on? How tall would you say it should be if it is for K-6?

jazzgod21 (author)PeRoadrunner2016-11-07

outside generally doesn't work well as the standard ball well get blown away easily

jazzgod21 (author)2016-11-07

we found 5 way fittings on Amazon and with standard fittings came in at around $220

AzurusNova (author)2016-02-19

There's a great site out there that carts non standard furniture grade pvc grade fittings that I think would fit your needs perfectly.

Check it out and let me know what you think.
As for your instructible, this is a neat soon on the game I used to play as a kid.

Hope the site helps.

ChrisK273 (author)AzurusNova2016-09-27

This company sells their fittings on Amazon, and they're Prime eligible! 2 day shipping!

offseid (author)2016-05-24

Great idea! I am definitely going to do this. One question. Do you think 2" PVC is really necessary? I just wonder if you could get away with 1" pipes to save some money...or do you think the structure would be too wobbly with 1" pipes?

ChrisK273 (author)offseid2016-09-27

I just built one with 1" pipes. It's very wobbly, but can be stabilized by staking wires from the corners down into the ground, like one would do with a big circus tent, LOL. We also used the cheap PVC, a step down from Schedule 40. Don't skimp trying to save money--get the Sched. 40. It's sturdier.

CoryH (author)offseid2016-05-24

Great question.

We are middle school and we expected a lot of mileage on them. I would bet smaller would also work and it will definitely store better.

BobF72 (author)2016-08-02


Go to You can by 4 - 2" corner pieces for $13.32, 4- 5 way center piece for $33.80 and 8 - 4 way side piece for $47.92 - with shipping the total was $123.61. This made it easy to make 5' squares - just have to cut 10' section in half and glue together. - Bob

hhuckabee (author)2016-07-05

Where did you find your PVC at the price you listed?

CoryH (author)hhuckabee2016-07-05

Menards online

TedZ3 (author)2016-05-26

I noticed you did not include the 4 cross fitting on the middle square in your final parts list and cost. All that to say I'm planning to build it. Thanks for the great design!

cczesak (author)2016-02-20

Genius! I've been looking for a way to use PVC for kids forts and was always stuck trying to deal with the corners. This is great!

jmwells (author)2016-02-19

Game rules? How to play?

DJ Dr4g0n (author)jmwells2016-02-19

I was wondering the same thing and found this...

Great instructable BTW! ^__^

wold630 (author)2016-02-19

That's awesome you saved so much money!

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a middle school math teacher in North Central Indiana. I have taught for the past 11 years. In addition to teaching middle school ... More »
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