Rough Contact Games
Directory to Games
The following games can be or are very rough, with much physical contact.
The players can expect to be bruised, contused and sore after playing.
These games are recommended only for Older Boy Activities.
BEAR CAVE RACE:
(from MacFarlan, Allan. Treasury of Memory Making Indian Campfires)
Four hoops, each about 2' in diameter are set up (or held) equidistant
around a circle such that their sides are parallel to the radius of the
circle. Two racers, in bear attitude start from a marker between
any two hoops. They are on their hands and knees. The goal
is for each player to pass through each hoop in turn and get around the
circle first. He may only interfer with the other racer by shouldering
him out of the way. No hands or feet contact. Growling is permitted.
Shouldering between hoops is also permitted.
variation: the bears go in opposite directions.
variation: more than two bears.
variation: the patrols go in relay fashion.
Stuff a rubber ball into a long sock, and tie a 15 foot line or rope
to it. The person holding the rope lays down in the center and begins
spinning the bola (sock with ball). The others jump the rope as it
spins by them. If the rope touches or nicks a jumper he is out. Last
one jumping is the winner. (Variation, if agreed upon before hand,
at the discretion of the spinner, if the rope entangles the feet of the
jumper, the spinner may attempt to finish the hogtie before the jumper
has freed his feet.)
BRITISH BULL DOG:
The group divides into two teams (more equal in weight than numbers).
Each team has a defined area with a center line between them. The
depth of the areas is dependent on the degree of roughness and amount
of chasing desired in the game.) At a given signal, team A attempts
to pull, drag, carry or otherwise manuever the players of team B over the
center line. A time limit is set, at which the teams return to their
areas and exchange roles. A round consists of two goes so each team
has played capturers and capturees once. The winner of the round
is the team with the greatest number (or weight) of opposing players across
the center line.
(For larger older boys only, very rough): The game is played
with two teams of approximately equal weight.
Team A lines up with the largest player as post. He holds the
head of the next player in line under his arm, as does each player down
the line, thus forming a linked line. Team B rushes and or jumps
upon the line trying to break the line. Team B may be required to
rush or jump one at a time, or may all attack at once. (Perhaps the
all at a time may be limited to the final round.) The teams take
turns forming the line and rushing the line.
A Ring is drawn on the ground, about 9 feet in diameter. (A piece of
cloth will also work to mark the circle or space) Two players
of about equal weight enter the ring. On the start signal, each attempts
to push, shove, or otherwise force the other out of the circle. If
any portion of a player touches or passes outside the circle, he is the
loser. (Macfarlan p 223)
variation: for a softer game, require the players to grasp opposite
A ring is drawn on the ground (or a piece of cloth about 5 to 8 feet
square). The players join hands (each grabbing the others wrists.)
On the signal "pull" they attempt to force each other to touch or step
inside the circle. If a player touches the circle, steps inside the
circle, or loses his grip on his neighbor, he is out and the others close
up his spot, after he leaves. (This may be a team event, with the
players either or segments of the circle, or interspersed.) (Macfarlan
CAPTIVE OF WAR:
Two teams stand on parallel lines about 60 feet apart. The object
is for any player of either side to touch a hand of any player on the opposing
team and dodge back safely to his base (behind his team's line).
Upon touching an opponent's hand, the player gives a whoop. The team
whose hand was touched attempts to catch that player before he returns
to his base. If he is caught, he is out and waits --as a Captive
of War --behind his opponents team for the next round. The next round
could begin when all of one side was caught, or after a predetermined time
period.) (Notes: The player touched need not be waiting behind
his line. Any number of players may be out from base on either team
at the same time.) (Macfarlan p 89)
The group is divided into two teams, not necessarily equal in numbers
or size. The goal of one team is to capture the second team and put
them into a prison. The goal of the second team is to avoid being
captured. A time limit may be set, and the game played in rounds
with the teams alternating roles. Variation: Escape from the
prison may be allowed if predefined.
CAT AND RAT:
Two players are designated. One the rat, one the cat. The
other players form a circle. The object is for the cat to catch the
rat. The circle helps the rat. It tightens up to keep the cat
from going through the circle, it opens up to let the rat through the circle.
(It is a struggle, the whole crowd weaving and pushing, letting the cat
in, letting the rat out.) Every time the positions change, the circle
chants, "cat in, rat out" or "rat in, cat out" to keep the rat protection
A 2x4x6' is laid on the ground. The challengers each mount the
2x4 standing with one foot advanced from the other. The right hand
of each challenger is advanced. At the signal "attack" each slaps
at the others right hand with his right hand. The first to touch
the ground even with a toe loses. This game is derived from the more
rough version played on a log bridge in which the challengers attempt to
force, push or shove the other from the bridge. (Macfarlan p 242)
CLOSE ENCOUNTER WRESTLING:
Two individuals are tied together at the ankles so that at most they
can be twelve feet apart. At the start signal, they wrestle, each
attempting to pin the other. The rope may be used in any fashion
that does not damage the other player.
CLOSE ENCOUNTER PILLOW FIGHT:
Two blindfolded individuals are tied together at the waist so they
are 12' feet apart. Each is given a pillow, or other soft sack thing.
At the start command, each starts to reel in rope. Whenever either
feels he is close enough, he may start hitting at the his opponent with
his pillow. This becomes a challenge to estimate how close the other
is, and to know where to strike with the pillow. It also makes a
good spectator sport.
The entire group assumes the crab walk position. (This is facing up
supported only by hands and feet.) The object is to unbalance the
other players so some other portion of their body touches the ground.
The last player in position wins. (good for two or more players)
ELBOW GUARD BALL:
Two contestants each support a ball on the left arm, which is bent
and held horizontal with the fist at the chest in such manner as to form
a shelf. On the shelf is placed a volleyball or basketball.
The object is to knock the opponents ball off his shelf, without losing
one's own ball.
The group is divided into two teams, not necessarily equal in number
or size. One team is confined in a prison (a predefined area or enclosure).
The second team guards the prison to prevent the escape of the first team.
The object is for as many as possible of the confined team to escape (i.e.
reach a certain distance or base.). The game can be structured
to either require the confined team to reach the base a team with as few
losses as possible, or to allow them to function as individuals.
Definitions of capture and restraint must be defined before play
Two man challenge game in which each has a flag (piece of cloth or
t shirt) tucked into his belt behind his back. The contestants must
remain on their hands and knees. At the start command, each attempts
to grab the flag from his opponents belt. Only arm and shoulder contact
is allowed. The winner is he who plucks the flag from his opponent.
Two challengers sit facing opposite with legs outstretched. At
"ready" each seized the near ankle of the other. At "pull" each attempted
to pull his opponents feet along the floor until the opponents feet were
in line with his waist. It is strictly illegal to raise the foot.
The game is decided by two out of three. (Macfarlan p 237)
(from MacFarlan, Allan. Treasury of Memory Making Indian Campfires).
From the group two evenly matched for size and weight are chosen.
One is given a large blanket, the other a soft rope 15-20 feet long.
The contest is to render the other helpless with the weapons in their hands.
(one may steal the others weapon and use it against him in combination
with his own.) Once one of the contestants is restrained totally,
the contest is over.
KING OF THE LOG:
Two players take pillows (or suitable substitutes). They stand
(or sit) on a log. The first player be knocked off the log or to
fall off the log loses. (Challenges are then accepted or a
tournament type round robin is set up.)
Using rubber knives which have been chalked, two individuals have a
knife fight. The first with a "fatal" wound loses. Or the game
can be played to first "blood" (Chalk). The game is best played without
shirts as skin shows chalk better and washes easier. (Works well
with Challenge Ring technique) . The game can also be played with
pieces of colored chalk, instead of rubber knives.
The group divides into two teams. Each team has a goal line at
the end of a field. One team lines up behind their goal line, and
the other team is on their half of the field. At the start signal,
the team behind the goal has 30 seconds to get across their opponents goal
line. The opponents may hinder their progress in any manner without
damaging the first team members. A point is scored for each person
across the goal line at the end of the thirty seconds. A team may
assist each other, even returning onto the field to assist their team mates.
(If ropes are to be used, it must be agreed upon before starting play,)
On a log bridge (found or erected) two challengers start, one from
each end, carrying a stout hardwood stick about 18" in length and 2 to
3 in diameter. When the challengers met in the middle, they raised
their sticks, and press one on the other. The one forced back or
off the log is the loser. The sticks are presses one against the
other, not struck. Contestants not using steady pressure are
disqualified. (Macfarlan p 240)
(from _____ . Physical readiness Training.)
A circle about 12 feet in diameter is established. Each of the
patrols lines up evenly spaced around the "pit", with smallest in front
and largest in back. At the start signal, the front player of each
Patrol enters the pit and attempts to force any of the other players in
the pit out of the pit. If any portion of a player touches the ground
outside the circle, he is out. As players are eliminated, they are
replaced by the next player from their own patrol. The Patrol with
the last player in the pit wins.
VARIATION: All the patrols are in the ring. The patrol
with the last man in the ring wins.
VARIATION: All the players are in the ring. The last man
in the ring wins.
Variation: Rather than a ring, a 4' deep pit is used. This
makes the game rougher.
(very rough) A circle of fifty feet is marked. Across the middle
is a strip twenty feet wide. On eithor side of the middle strip is
a strip ten feet wide. At the extreme five feet on eithor side is
a narrow end strip. The middle strip is the war zone. The zones
on eithor side are the peace strips, and the end zones are the villages.
The players start in their peace zones. The goal of the game is to
touch a player of the opposing side and return to your own peace zone.
A player may be captured in eithor the war zone or the opposing teams peace
zone, not in his own peace zone. A player is captured by being pulled
or carried into the opposing players peace zone. He may try to escape,
or his team may rescue him by pulling or carrying or grabbing him from
his captors in eithor the war zone or the peace zone. Once he is
into the end village zone, he is out of the game for that round.
The round ends when all of one team is captured, or a preset time limit
is up. The score is the total number of coups counted by one team,
minus twice the number of their team captured and contained in the opposing
teams village zone.
The two teams line up some distance apart. One teams yells "red
rover, red rover, send (name or names of players, numbers may be used).
The person or persons called attempts to break through the joined hands
and wrists of the opposing team. If he makes it he takes one of their players
back to join his team. If he does not, he joins their team.
The game continues till all players are on one team.
Same rules as Crab Grab only the posture assumed is to tie foot to
thigh or belt so as to stand only on one leg. The last in the group
standing wins. (Some groups may prefer to hold their leg up with
one hand rather than tying it up, but this limits the number of hands to
fight the other roosters with.) (to decrease the roughness, it can
be required to corss the arms in front.)
RULERS OF THE PEAK:
The group is divided into two or more teams. The goal is to have
each group attempt to plant their flag and possess a peak, top of hill,
knoll, center of clearing, etc. Usually the goal should take some
doing to reach. Along the way the teams may interfere with the progress
of the other teams, stealing their flag, killing their players etc.
The manner and mode of interference or killing must be defined before play
starts. A story from history, such as the race for the pole may add
to the excitiment. This may also be used as a race, with the interteam
interference, esp. if the point is distant enough or difficult enough or
dangerous enough to reach eliminated.
A cloth about 20" long and 7 inches wide (the skunk skin) is placed
on the ground about 8 feet from a pair of challengers. The challengers
attempt to force their opponent to touch the skunk skin. The game
is played in three ways: 1) Any portion of the body may be
forced to the skin. 2) The challengers grasp shoulders and
attempt to force the other to step on the skunk skin placed 8 feet from
the pair. 3) The challengers grasp shoulders over the skin,
and attempt to force the other to step on the skunk skin. (Macfarlan
A playing field of a circle about thirty feet in diameter is marked
with a clearly defined boundary. Two holes about a foot in diameter
are dug at opposite sides of the circle. A ball is placed in each
hole. The players are in two teams. Both teams have their shoes off, one
team has their socks off so as to be identified. The play is done on the
knees. To start the play each team gathers around their hole.
The object is to get your teams ball into the opponents hole. As
long as you are on your knees and in the circle, anything goes. If
for any reason, any portion of a players body crosses the boundary, he
is out of the game. (It is legal to monopolize the opposing teams
ball, sit on the hole, or to throw the opposing players out of the circle
(thus the name of the game).) A referee is a good idea. If
you or your opponent stops enjoying it action, you have both lost the game.)
Variation: ELIMINATION: The same rules as above, except the
ball and the holes are forgotten and the object to eliminate your opponents
by forcing them out of the circle. (This may eithor be a team game,
a everyman for himself game.)
Variation: KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF: The same set up as Slaughter,
except the opposing teams both wear socks and a player is eliminated when
both of his socks have been removed. Note: Over the calf socks
must be rolled to the ankle before play starts. (This may eithor be a team
game, or a everyman for himself game.)
A smooth, slippery piece of wood 1-2" diameter and 18" long is greased
so as to be slippery. The goal is for the the contestants (1 to 5
on a team) to obtain control of the stick. only one hand per player may
be used. The other should be kept behind the back (perhaps secured
there). Start position is the captain of each team (or individual
in case of man to man challenge) to grasp the stick near the middle, on
the start command, each attempts to wrest the stick from the other.
In team play, the team joins in after the start command. (can be
rough. Recommend very old clothes or gym trunks only as the greasy
stick will stain clothes)
(aka PENETRATION): The group is divided into two teams, not necessarily
equal. Alternately one or two may be appointed penetrators.
The object is for the penetrators to cross a given area in a set time.
The second team's attempts to prevent them from making it.
The means of prevention must be defined before play starts. As we
usually play it, each player has two lengths of rope, and tying is used
as the means of restraint. For short distances and times, manual
holding has worked well, but is quite rough.
Two players face off face to face at an arms distance. The feet
of each player are side by side touching. The players place palms
of the hands on the palms of the opponents hands. (Right to left
and left to right.) The object is to force your opponent to move
either or both of his feet. The winner is the first two out of three.
(Variation, not to allow any sudden moves.)
Two challengers each grasp with one hand the end of a hardwood pole
about 4 feet long. A 14 inch stick is placed on the ground one pace
behind each challenger. At the start signal, each attempts to reach
and pick up the stick behind him. The winner is the challenger first
picking up his stick. (Macfarlan p 232)
Two challengers on their hands and knees, facing each other have a
strong band or webbing adjusted so as to pass behind the head of each.
On the command "ready" the challengers put pressure on the band.
On the command "pull" they attempt to pull the other over a line four feet
behind their start position. If the band slips off, that player is
disqualified. This winner is decided on a two out of three.
(Macfarlan p 246)
SUBDUE (very rough):
In groups of at least 5, the group attempts to physically control each
player in turn. It, the player being subdued that turn, may not run
nor hide (cf. Convict Search), but must put up the best effort to escape
possible. This game is very rough. The players must expect
bruising. They must not do to others, as they would not want done
to themselves. The round is over once it can not longer effectively
resist or move. The rounds may be timed, and the player taking longest
to subdue wins. (Ropes are not used in the game. See Resistance
Tie for a similar game with ropes.)
The group forms a circle with one player outside the circle.
The group them bends forward, hands on knees, eyes closed. The player
left outside has a rolled newspaper with which he gently swats one of the
players, then drops the rolled newspaper behind that player. The
swatted player picks up the rolled newspaper and chases the swatter
around the circle. If he can swat the swatter with the rolled newspaper,
then he retakes his place in the circle and the original swatter tries
again. If he cannot swat the swatter, then, he remains it and must
find another player to swat and try to escape from.
Using water soluble markers, two opponents agree on a portion of the
body to be marked. At the go command, each attempts to place a mark
on the others body at the agreed upon target, without getting marked himself.
(This is best played in very old clothes or gym trunks only.) Frequently
the game is played with four targets: both knees and both shoulders.
A pulling contest in which the challengers are on their hands and knees,
facing away from each other. Using bands of cloth or straps, the
right ankles are joined. At the signal "pull" each attempts to pull
the other over a line drawn four feet in front of his start position.
This may be varied by joining left feet, or even both feet. (Macfarlan
The players, by twos face each other inside a 50 foot circle.
Each wears a crepe paper band around his left arm just above the elbow,
tied on with a square knot. At the command "Attack" each either stalk,
or rush each other in an effort of snatch the opponents armband.
Each pair may dodge about the circle as they will, interfering as little
as possible with other pairs that may be playing at the same time.
The attackers may crouch, feint, jump or try to secure a rivals armband
in any fair and not over rough way. The groups may be arranged as
teams in which each team has a distinctive color. The snatching may
be a free for all rather than in the distinct pairs, but this may become
overrough. (Macfarlan p 239)
The group forms a circle with a "wildcat" in the middle. The
wild cat attempts to break through the circle. When he does, he runs,
the group attempts to catch him. The one to catch him then becomes
the next wildcat. Catch can be defined as tag, tackle, control,
hit with nerf ball, etc.
WILD GAME HUNT:
Two goal lines are established 25-50 yards apart. One individual
is the hunter. The remainder are animals, 2-4 per kind of animal.
The hunter calls out a type of animal, all of whom then must dash over
to the other goal line. The hunter attempts to tag (catch, tackle
or hit with soft ball) one of them. If he suceeds, he becomes that
animal, and the animal becomes the hunter.
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