Summer is here, the kids are out of school, and they have tons of time on their hands. There are no PE classes and a lot of sports are in the offseason. How are parents supposed to keep kids moving, having fun, and staying fit without the structure of school and organized sports?
These five simple games will help kids improve their aerobic/anaerobic fitness, speed, agility, and even core strength. All that’s needed are six to eight players (adults are welcome!), an open space about 20 yards wide and long, a few cones or markers, some hand towels, and a small, soft ball that the players can hold in one hand.
Set Up: Create two teams and provide a small, soft ball. Use cones to make a goal, approximately 3–4 yards wide, at each end of a 20-yard area of play.
Objective: Each team tries to score by throwing the ball into the other team’s goal. The ball must bounce before it crosses the goal line.
Rules: Players are only allowed to take three steps with the ball in their hands. Players cannot steal the ball from one another, but they can intercept it or knock it down. Any ball on the ground that isn’t a goal is a turnover for the other team. The first team to score ten goals is the winner.
Improves: Aerobic Fitness, Agility, Hand-Eye Coordination, Teamwork
Set Up: Create two teams and provide each team with a hand towel. The members of each team lock hands and make a circle.
Objective: To steal the opposing team’s towel or break the circle within 20 seconds.
Rules: One player, “the Driver,” puts a towel in the back of his or her shorts. Each team sends one player to attempt to steal the opposing team’s towel. “The Driver” must instruct the other players in the circle to move right or left in order to avoid having the team’s towel taken. Play for 20 seconds. If the towel gets taken or the circle breaks apart, the opposing team gets a point. Each player will take turns as “the Driver.” After all players have taken a turn as “the Driver,” the team with the most points wins.
Improves: Agility, Reactive Ability, Communication, Core Strength, Teamwork
Set Up: All players have hand towels tucked in the back of their shorts, creating “tails.”
Objective: Set a time limit of one minute. Each player gets a point for stealing another player’s towel.
Rules: Players must do five jumping jacks to get back into the game after their towels have been pulled. At the end of the one-minute round, the winner is the person who has stolen the most towels.
Improves: Agility, Reactive Ability, Hand-Eye Coordination, Anaerobic Fitness
Set Up: Put two sets of three cones or markers 5 yards apart across the open space.
Objective: Completing laps for points within a 2-minute time period.
Rules: Place two players (Nos. 1 and 2) at each of the first cones, and one person at each of the second (No. 3) and third (No. 4) cones. No. 1 is on the ground holding a bridge. No. 2 runs towards No.3. Upon being tagged, No. 3 back-peddles towards No. 4, who is seated on the ground with their legs up. Upon being tagged, No. 4 gets up and sprints back towards No. 1. Then, No. 1 gets up off the ground and restarts the race while No. 4 gets into the bridge position. Every time the team completes a lap, they get a point. Run the race for 2 minutes. The team with the most laps (points) wins.
Improves: Anaerobic Fitness, Core Strength, Teamwork
Set Up: Create a playing space that is 5×5 yards square. Place 1, 2, 3, and 4 cones on the sides of the square. Divide players into two teams.
Objective: The player who gets to the side with the appropriate cones first wins a point; team with the most points after four to five rounds wins.
Rules: Two players from separate teams enter the square. A third player will call out either “1, 2, 3, or 4” and the two players in the middle of the square must react and run to the side with the matching number of cones. The player who gets to the side with the appropriate cones first wins a point. Play four to five rounds, and the team with the most points wins.
Improves: Reactive Ability, Agility, Speed
The key to keeping kids fit over the summer is to make their activities fun and creative. During the school year and sports seasons, kids are required to conform to structure and drills that provide them with their physical fitness. While it may be necessary for proper functioning in their classes and teams, this structure can easily get monotonous and boring. When kids play games, not only do they tend to enjoy physical activity more, they also begin to take ownership of their fitness and make it their own.