Getting students to move, sweat, spend energy and have fun is always a win. But some of the most difficult tasks in youth ministry is coming with a game each week. Here is a list of 10 running games. This can either serve as 10 random week of your year of programming, or you can use them as a 10 week rotation to fill up your entire year.
1. Hand Soccer Tag
Make a goal at each side of the playing field. Split the teams evenly. The object of the game is to throw the ball between the cones, or whatever you choose to use, without going over the goalie’s head. After a team scores, the other team goes towards the other goal. This is non-stop until you decide the game is over. When you have the ball, you cannot run after you get tagged by the other team. If you get tagged, you have to shoot from where you are standing. But the object is not to get tagged, and keep passing the ball to your teammate until a player has an open shot. To make the game more exciting. With larger groups, have more than one ball.
2. Heads or Tails Run
Put a long tape or rope line on the floor in the middle of the room. Have the group pair up and stand facing each other in parallel lines with the line on the floor in between them. Name the group on one side of the line “heads” and the opposing group “tails”. The game admin then flips a coin and yells out “heads” or “tails” if it is tails then that group must run and touch the wall behind them before the “heads” team tags them. If the coin lands on heads that group must do likewise and make it to their wall before the “tails” team tags them. When someone is tagged they are out. The side with the last person left standing wins.
3. Elbow Tag
This is an “every person for themselves” game. Each player puts one hand on the back of their head so their elbow is sticking out. The object of the game is to tag other people’s elbow with the free hand while not allowing their own elbow to be tagged. When an elbow is tagged that person must sit down. The last person left standing is the winner.
Suggestion: Have a leader or appointed student walking around and “re-activating” players who are sitting so the game lasts longer.
4. Starburst capture the flag
Set up the room or playing field like capture the flag, but in place of the flags put a bucket. Divide your group into two even teams just like capture the flag. Each participant must have a starburst candy in their hands at all times. The objective of the game is to get more starburst in the other teams bucket. If a player is tagged while on the other teams side they must go back and put their starburst back in their own bucket. That player then needs to go to the leader or assigned student that is handing out starbursts and get a new one. Once they have a new starburst in their hands they can reenter the game. Play until the starbursts are all in buckets or until time runs out and the team with the most starbursts in the opposing teams bucket wins.
5. Foot Ladder Relay
Have everyone find a partner and sit on the floor in two parallel lines with their partner across from them and their legs extended so the feet of each partner are touching. Give each partner group a number in sequential order. The game admin then calls out a number and the students who have that number must both get up and run down the middle of the line, hopping over the outstretched legs of the other players, around the outside of the line (behind the backs of the other players on their side), and back down the middle of the line to their spot in the line. It is a race between the partners. The partner that sits down first earns their side a point. Play to a certain number or for a set period of time.
6. Poop Deck
Tape on the ground (or lay out rope) 4 areas about 50 feet apart. Label them #1, #2, #3, and “poop”(see below)
The game admin will call out, “1”, “2”, “3”, “poop deck”, “hit the deck” or “swap the deck”. Students have to run to which ever deck is called out by the game admin.. 1, 2, 3, or the poop deck. If the game admin calls out “Hit the deck” everyone must drop to their knees, if “swap the deck” is called everyone must lay flat. Whoever is the last one in the area or on the ground is out. The admin can have as much fun as they want calling out a new deck when they are half way to the first one, or by simply going back and forth between hit the deck and swap the deck as many times as they want.
7. Ultimate Frisbee (Ball, Octopus, Fish, Random Object)
Two even teams working to score a goal in the other teams end zone. Students can not move while holding the frisbee, and every time the frisbee hits the ground it switches possession. They must pass to their team mates in order for it to move up the playing field.
Variations of this include different items as the “frisbee” for instance, ultimate ball. Exact same concept except instead of end zones there are trash cans as the goals. The same goes for gross items like dead fish, and other objects.
8. Mission Impossible
All students start at one location and try to make it to another location on the campus without getting tagged (or pegged with a sponge or other soft ball or something) by the leaders or preselected students. Basically it is a giant game of sharks and minnows that is not played in a super enclosed area. You can chose to have students who have been tagged become taggers or sit out until the next round.
9. Running Trivia
Divide your group into teams of 3-5 depending on how many students you have. Ask a trivia question, Bible question, random fact question, or whatever you come up with. Teams are trying to answer the question correctly but in order to answer a member of the team must tag a certain location around the room, give a high-five to a certain leader who is in a different location each time, or maybe even running around trying to avoid being high-fived. The person who achieves the task first gets to answer, if they get the question right they earn a point for their team, if they get it wrong then the second place person to the task gets to answer and try to score points for their team.
10. Tic-Tac-Toe Relay
Mark out a tic-tac-toe board with tape on the floor on on the back wall. Divide your group into multiple teams of 3. Each student will have 1 placement marker (scarf, “X” or “O” cut out, different color paper). On go, the first person from each team will run down to the tic tac toe board and place their marker in one of the squares. After they place the marker, they will race back to their line to high five the next student in line. The next student will then place their marker in an open square. The goal is to have your team get 3 in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally). If all 3 markers have been played and there is no tic tac toe, the next student in line will run down and move one of their own team markers into an open square. You can have multiple games going at a time and make it into tournament style play.
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com