Winning Isn’t Everything

Equipment: Fist-sized balls (stress balls or tennis balls and more than the number of players), and at least two baskets, buckets, or bins

Space: Court, field, or playground

Recommended number of players: 10 to 30, depending on the size of the playing area

Recommended game length: 2 minutes 

Set-up: Create two teams with the same number of players (if there is an odd number, you can participate or have two kids trade off midway through the game). Divide the playing area into two halves, one half for each team, and place all balls in the middle. At the back of each team’s area, place one or more baskets where players put the balls they’ve captured. 

Objective: Each team accumulates as many balls as possible in their basket(s) by the allotted time. 

Play: Players begin by picking up one ball at a time and placing it in their team’s basket(s) (encourage them to run). Once all balls have been placed in baskets, players can run to the opposition’s basket, remove one ball at a time and bring it back to their own team’s basket. Remind them to keep their heads up to avoid collisions. 

Circle Ball

Equipment: One small ball per group (soccer ball or kickball)

Space: Any flat surface that can accommodate all players

Recommended number of players: six to eight per group

Recommended game length: 2 minutes 

Set-up: Divide kids into groups of six to eight people. Players stand in a circle with feet spread as wide as possible, with the outer edge of each foot touching the outer edge of his or her neighbor’s. One player is given the ball to get the game started. 

Objective: Score by rolling the ball through another player’s legs (while simultaneously blocking balls from rolling through your own).

Play: The player with the ball tries to bat it through the legs of another player. All players defend and block shots from opposing players by keeping their hands low to the ground. Players must only roll the ball–no throwing or catching. All shots must stay on the ground, and the ball can only be batted with an open palm. 

Be careful not to hit the ball in the air as it may strike another player in the face. When a player scores by successfully rolling the ball through another player’s legs, the successful player retrieves the ball while the other players in the circle perform three push-ups or a set number of reps of a specified exercise. 

Towel Race

Equipment: One large towel or resistance-tubing with handles per partner team; two cones, water bottles, branches, or other marker per team; two sets of heavy dumbbells or other weighted objects with handles (kettlebells or sand-filled milk jugs) per team; deck of cards

Space: Open field, studio, or gym

Recommended number of players: Partner teams

Recommended game length: 2 to 4 minutes 

Set-up: Divide the group into teams of two, and place cones across the field from one another to create Points A and B (the distance between cones should vary based on a team’s fitness level and available space). 

Objective: Partner teams race against each other to complete the course first or to see how many rounds they can finish in the allotted time. Partners can keep track of completed rounds by taking a card from a deck after each round.        

Play: Partner A ties the towel or tubing around his or her waist while Partner B “tows” behind Partner A, holding the towel and creating resistance as they walk from one cone to another. The partners must walk or take long strides. No running, and there must be tension on the towel at all times. At Point B, they drop the towel, and each player picks up a set of dumbbells and walks briskly back to Point A. Once there, they run back to Point B, pick up the towel, and do the “tow” drill back to Point A, with the other partner in the lead, and then each walks to Point B carrying the dumbbells. 

Pete McCall is an Exercise Physiologist and ACE-certified Personal Trainer for the American Council on Exercise. Reach him at


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