Looking for an infectiously fun, yet complex tag game? This is it.
There’s a lot to digest, but it’s worth it. Especially if you work with young people because they may want to play this over and over again.
Gather three to ten people and form a tight circle. Ask everyone to place one hand into the centre of the circle to form a circle of hands.
Nominate one person as the ‘leader.’ Their first task is to call out “ONE” and then continue around the circle tapping the hand and assigning a number (“TWO, THREE, FOUR…”) to every other person.
This set-up and counting are important because it establishes the order of play.
The game starts with the leader calling out “PDQ” at which point everyone must immediately, and without hesitation, jump backwards (with both feet leaving the ground and then landing) out of the circle, ie away from all others. A person is not permitted to jump forward in the beginning.
This initial jump is the one and only safe jump, ie no one can be eliminated on this jump. That said, let’s turn our attention to how the game is now played and how people may be eliminated.
Announce that the primary aim of Pretty Darn Quick is to remain in the game as long as possible by stepping on the feet of other people to eliminate them, and of course, avoiding your own feet being stepped on. The last player to remain in the game wins.
The leader starts the action. As soon as their (two) feet land after the opening jump, they are entitled to start their turn by taking a jump.
In case it’s not obvious, all movements aim to bring an individual closer to an opponent to launch a tag, or actually perform a tag by touching the top of an opponent’s shoe with one’s sole.
To this end, it may seem like everyone else is a sitting duck, but this is not the case.
At any time one person is taking their turn (mid-jump,) all other players are entitled to jump too, perhaps for the purposes of strategy or to avoid being eliminated by the person taking their turn.
In these instances, for their jumps to be considered legal, they must occur after the person taking their turn has started their jump and certainly before their last foot lands. If someone happens to move/jump before the person taking their turn has jumped (referred to as a ‘fake’) they are eliminated.
Are you still with me? Stick with it, there’s not much more.
The turn of any person ends when their last foot lands. At this point, the next person (in the sequence of the numbers) may then begin their turn.
Clearly, all jumping efforts are focused on either attempting to tag the top of an opponent’s shoe or avoiding the tag of another person. If a person taking their turn happens to make a successful tag, their opponent is eliminated and will make a gracious exit away from the action.
Now, one of the most commons ways in which a person can be eliminated is to cause someone to move their feet because the person taking their turn faked their jump. Classic gotcha moments.
Faking is the movement of any person (who is not taking their turn) when it is not their turn in the established sequence to move, or is performed in anticipation of (and certainly before) the movement of the person taking their turn.
For legal purposes, a ‘fake’ move is considered to have been made when one or both feet of the person under scrutiny have lifted off the ground or significantly slid outside the original footprint of their feet (before they moved.)
Or, in other words, faking involves any movement of one’s feet, but does not preclude any other part of a person’s body from moving or flinching.
In summary, a person can be eliminated in one of three ways:
A Quick Illustration
Now, let’s pull all of this together.
The circle forms, the leader taps and calls the number of each person’s hand and announces “PDQ.” Everyone jumps back away from the circle.
The leader takes their turn first, jumping towards another person. While he or she is jumping, most other players also jump, in all directions. The only person who can tag (eliminate) another is the person taking their turn, ie the leader at this point in the game.
Let’s say the leader (#1) happens to tag the top of the shoe belonging to the #2 person, which means this person is eliminated and the next person to jump is #3.
Person #3 now takes their turn, jumps but does not eliminate anyone (again, during this jump, all other people are entitled to jump.) Person #4 then jumps and happens to eliminate person #7. Which means, all things being equal, person #8 will take their turn after person #6 has jumped on their turn, and so on.
Play continues until the last person standing wins the game. Ordinarily, this person becomes the leader to start the next game.
I know, it’s a slog, but honestly, start playing and after a couple of quick rounds, you’ll quickly get the hang of it. And, if it strikes a chord with your group, they will likely beg you to play it over and over again.
Advanced Conditions & Guidelines
Now, if you feel your group is up for it, then read on because there are some pretty advanced moves and guidelines yet to discuss. Truly, these next sections are for pure enthusiasts.
The game gets really crowded with 11 or more people. Smaller games tend to afford more play time in general.
For the purist, a jump can take one of two forms, with one or both feet. A one-footed jump means that an individual only moved one foot, whereas a two-footed jump involves both feet leaving and then returning to the ground.
All (jumping) actions must be fluid and single-directional and no foot can stall or hover in mid-air. It’s perfectly legal for one’s feet to depart and land at slightly different times, as long as the action meets these parameters.
Judgement calls play a big part in the game. Often, owing to the pace of the action and the situations people may find themselves, arguments will arise about what actually happened. If a disagreement can not be resolved quickly, it is always best to return everyone back one step. Like most games, Pretty Darn Quick works best when everyone plays to make the game fair and fun for all.
For purposes of definition, the sole of a shoe includes only that part which makes contact with the ground. And the top of an opponent’s shoe is everything from the sole of the shoe to just below the ankle (no matter how far the shoe or boot continues up the leg of a person.)
For the record, if someone responds to the fake of the person taking their turn (which means that the latter did not actually jump) and takes a jump out of turn towards a third person, this third person should not move because the person whose turn it is didn’t move. However, if this third person moved (out of turn) in an act of self-preservation, they are not eliminated. In such cases, the person reacting to the fake is eliminated, while the third person is required to return to the spot from whence they came.
You could integrate Pretty Darn Quick as part of a well-designed SEL program to help your group make caring and constructive choices about personal behaviour and social interactions across different situations.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s well-being of enjoying a good dose of physical exercise.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to interact and engage physically with others may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the level of safety consciousness that was demonstrated during the activity and relate this to a set of observed impacts on others.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Pretty Darn Quick could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
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Are you up for a dynamic tag game? It’s quick and exciting and requires lots of energy, but it does also require a little bit of patience to explain all the rules…
This next exercise often involves a lot of deception. Many people may try to trick you into moving when you’re not supposed to. You may also attempt to make others move when they’re not supposed to. Would you like to know more…
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this dynamic tag game:
The inspiration for Pretty Darn Quick was sourced from a now-defunct page on the internet shared by a guy called ‘Duct Monkey.’ Sadly, his email address is no longer active. He loved playing the game himself and wanted every kid in every town to know how to play.
While not high quality, you can view a Youtube video to see the game in action.
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