Ask the members of your group to stand on most, if not all, of the painted lines of a basketball court.
One person volunteers as ‘It,’ ie their only goal is to tag someone.
On “GO,” all movements – to tag or avoid being tagged – must occur on the lines.
A person cannot jump from one line to another, or cut corners.
Once a tag has occurred, the role of ‘It’ immediately switches to newly-tagged person.
Continue play for several minutes, or try a variation while your group still has energy.
How To Play Narrative
Standing on the painted lines of a basketball court, spread your group out so that most if not all lines have at least one occupant. Ask for a volunteer to start as the first “It,” and you’ve got everything you need.
Each person, in their attempt to tag or avoid being tagged, can only travel along the lines of the court. They cannot jump from one line to another, nor cut corners. It’s as if they were a train, and can only steam along the designated tracks, in this case, the painted lines.
As soon as a tag is accomplished, the two parties switch roles, and the action starts up again.
To be fair, it is considered good manners not to immediately re-tag the most recent ‘It’ to give them a chance to get away and/or catch their breath.
Continue to play for several minutes, try a variation (see Variations tab below) or wait until your group is exhausted.
Practical Leadership Tips
Naturally, any sports court will suffice, including tennis, netball, badminton and volleyball courts. That said, playing surfaces which have multiple courts painted on them are the best because they provide so many options for movements.
If you have a small group, perhaps limit the action to just the half-court.
If there are too many lines, restrict movement to certain coloured lines.
Expect the inevitable arguments about whether someone did or did not cut a corner. Quickly nip these debates in the bud by focusing on the fun involved in the game, and not the ‘rules.’
You could integrate Basketball Court Tag as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage healthy social interactions as much as enjoy the benefits of a good dose of physical activity.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits of enjoying a good dose of physical exercise and fun.
In a small way, you could argue that the manner in which group members interact with one another during the game may provide an opportunity for your group to focus on healthy and respectful behavioural norms. For example, some members may choose not to adhere to certain parameters of the game, or tag others in an aggressive way, etc. These types of interactions would be worthy to observe and invite your group to reflect on in the context of full value.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Basketball Court Tag could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Multiple Taggers: Introduce two or more taggers, and watch the ‘you-can’t-get-away’ strategies develop.
Alternate Moves: Require that all movements (to tag and flee) reflect a particular type of physical movement, eg side-to-side, backwards, heel to toe, etc.
Wagon Wheel Tag: Create a very large wagon wheel outline (a circle with a number of radial lines in and out of centre) with chalk or tape, and play as above.
Take a look almost any other tag game as suitable candidates for use on any sports court surface.
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Useful Framing Ideas
I’d like you to imagine that the lines on the basketball court we are standing on are like train tracks. I’d also like you to imagine that you are all trains, so that all of your travel must occur on these lines…
One of the most glorious parts of any tag game is that all you need is an open space and plenty of energy to run around. But today, I’m going to limit your ability to run anywhere you choose, but your objective is still the same – to tag another, or to avoid being tagged…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this fun tag game:
Was it challenging to limit your movements to the lines?
Did you ever get cornered by ‘It?’ How did that feel?
Were you ever tempted to jump lines, or cut a corner?
Where else in your life do you feel the need to cut corners or break the rules?
High Energy ‘Warm-Up’ Session
What You Need:
8+ people, 15 mins, basketball court with clearly marked lines, indoors or outdoors