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Relays and Races for Youth Groups

By: Tom King - Updated: 10 Oct 2018 | comments*Discuss
Relays Races Youth Groups Play

Relays and races help to instill a sense of competition and camaraderie in youth groups, and they are a lot of fun into the bargain. Relays and races are great for more established, mature youth groups who are already comfortable with each other and can handle a bit of good-natured competition and the occasional defeat, but they do work with younger children too. This article explores some of the different relays and races which work best.

Simple Relays and Races

One of the most simple relays is, of course, the Shuttle Relay. This simply tests the speed of each team, so make sure you choose fairly balanced groups. Each team lines up and, one at a time, races towards a turning point, at which point they turn round and return to their team to tag the next runner. Whichever team completes the race first is the winner.

This is very easy to set up, and there are some easy variations you can throw in to change the relays - skipping, walking, hopping, etc. Alternatively, if you have enough leaders, have one leader stand at each end of the hall, and simply have each runner run to the other end of the hall. When the runner passes the leader, the leader waves a flag or an arm so that the next runner can begin. This gives a slightly more tense feel to the race.

Complex Relays and Races

There are some great complex relays and races that you can play with your youth groups. Here is a list of a few of these relays and races, which take slightly more preparation:
  • William Tell Race - this race works the same as the Shuttle Relay, except that each team member must carry an apple on their head!
  • Tunnel Race - Teams stand in single file. Each member must crawl through the legs of their team mates to reach the back of the line, then bounce back up so that the next player can go. Best for younger children.
  • Water Carry - this is one of the best relays to play in the summer when it's warm! Teams stand in single file in front of a bucket full of water. They have an empty bucket behind them. The first player must run to the full bucket and carry a beaker of water back to his team. The beaker is then passed over the heads of the team to the back, so that the water can be put into the empty bucket! This is one of those races which often leads to a drenching for all concerned! The race can either end when the bucket gets filled up to a certain level, or when the time runs out.
  • Spin Relay - This is another favourite and is best played outside on reasonably soft ground or inside on thick carpeting. Like other relays, teams will race to complete the game first, but instead of merely running to a turning point and returning, at the turning point there is a broom or a stick. Each runner must lean over so that their forehead is touching the top of the stick and spin around it ten times. They must then return to their team so that the next runner can depart.

    However, the spinning causes a certain amount of dizziness, and there is a strong likelihood that some of the youth will fall over - especially as the lure of competition makes them spin a little faster than they should!

There are many other relays and races that youth groups can play. However, we hope that those mentioned here will be a good starting point for leaders who are seeking to play games that are fun and competitive. Enjoy these relays and races!

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