Gym games provide opportunities not only to improve physical stamina and coordination, but also teach participants how to follow directions and have good sportsmanship. We have gym games for kids, games for those who participate in gymnastics, games for adults to play at the gym, and games for teams. Some of our games are easy and some a bit harder. We even have a selection of challenging gym games. We have gym games that work for as few as two players and games for very large groups. Whichever game you choose, you are sure to have fun.
Safety Tip: Be sure all game participants stay well hydrated before, during, and after these games. Adapt games for age and skill level of players to avoid injury.
Table of Contents
Gym Games for Kids
Kids love to run around and play. Gym games provide a fun way to exercise and offer many benefits, among them:
- Problem solving
- Following directions
- Fair playing
- Waiting to take turns
Games of tag are always fun. Our collection includes old favorites and a few you may not have heard of previously. It is best to set boundaries for play and make sure you explain any rules, emphasizing safety and good sportsmanship.
- Bandage Tag. Choose one to be “It.” When a player is tagged, they must hold a bandage (a hand) over the spot tagged. When a person has been tagged twice, they no longer have a “bandage,” so they must freeze in place. Two other players can unfreeze a frozen player by “operating” on them – tagging the frozen player and, at the same time, counting to five. This game becomes a challenge when a person is tagged in a difficult to reach spot, such as their back.
- True or False Tag. Divide your group into two equal teams. Once divided, put the teams on either side of the center line of the playing area. Each team has as their goal to have the most players remain untagged by the end of the game. If the coach or leader gives a true statement, such as “A cat meows,” all the true players run towards their goal chased by those on the false team. Anyone on the true team tagged by a member of the false team is out. Whichever team has the most members left wins the game. Note for leader or coach: Make sure you mix up the true and false questions so that players cannot anticipate which will be called out next.
- Blob Tag. Begin this game by setting boundaries for play. Select two players to begin the blob. As players are tagged, they must join hands with those in the blob. The last player(s) left begin(s) the next blob. If your group is very large, you can have the two or more students start blobs.
- Toe and Nose Tag. Tag games are fun, but this one is funny as well. Players evade being tagged by “It” when they hold their nose with one hand and their toes with the other. Designate three or four players to be your taggers. The game is made exciting since players may only hold the nose-toes position for three seconds. Of course, they attempt to run away from the taggers while doing so. Those who are tagged become “It” and begin to chase the other players. The game is over when everyone is “It.”
- Freeze Tag. An old favorite tag game, the two or three players designated “It” chase the other players. When they tag someone, the body part touched “freezes.” For example, if a player is tagged on the left arm, that arm is frozen. Players are out when they have so many body parts frozen they are unable to move. Variation: If your wish, you can allow players to have their body unfrozen by other players designated able to do so.
- Tail Tag. The coach or leader must provide flags or strips of cloth for each player to use as a tail. The players insert the “tail” into a belt, pocket, or waistband. The players chase each other trying to collect as many tails as possible, while protecting their own. The player(s) with the most tails collected in a set amount of time win this fun and frantic game.
Games Using Balls
Every gym has a variety of balls available for play. The following games use this equipment in novel, fun ways. Cover the rules and some safety guidelines before play begins.
- Octopus Ball. A sit-down version of dodge ball, players begin in a standing position, but sit down when they are tagged with the ball and become part of the octopus. Sitting players can touch any player who gets too close to them. Anyone touched also must sit down. The game ends when all the players are seated.
- Continuity Ball. You will need three beach balls for this fun gym game. Have your players scatter and throw one of the balls into the air. The goal is to keep the ball in the air as long as possible. However, the leader or coach will be adding two more balls to the game, one at a time. When all the balls fall to the ground, begin the game again. The players should improve their ability to keep all the balls in the air each time they play.
- Crab Kick Ball. Choose two goals for the teams to reach – a chair, trash can, etc. After dividing the players into two equal-sized teams, seat them on the floor opposite each other at each end of the gym. Place a goal at each end of the room for the opposite team. Put the ball (any kind) in the center on the room. The coach or leader gives a signal to start the play. All the players crab-walk to the ball and kick it toward their team’s goal. If a player does not maintain their crab-walk position, the opposing team gets a point. Every time a goal is scored, the ball is placed in the middle before play resumes. The coach or leader sets the number of points needed to win the game.
Next, we have a selection of games for those who participate in gymnastics. Whether your group is warming up, requires some learning activities, or just wants to have fun, we have the perfect gymnastic game for any size group and every skill level.
Adventure trail, a warming-up exercise for gymnast students, works various muscle groups and combines several exercise moves. Divide your group into teams of six to eight participants. Begin by setting up stations around the gym for as many of the following exercises as you wish:
- butterflies and splits stretches
- forward tumble over a wedge mat
- handstands on a mat against a wall
- toe touches
Number the stations and have gymnasts complete the stations in order, each team starting at a different station. Allow the gymnasts to spend a minute or two at each station, using a timer and whistle to tell them when to rotate to the next station.
Coach Says, a spin on the classic game Simon Says, challenges participants to work on their gymnastic skills and follow directions. The gymnasts line up on one side of the room. The goal is to reach the other side of the room first. The coach or leader says, “Coach Says” followed by the name of a skill, such as:
- chasse four times
- connect two cartwheels
- forward roll once
- hop forwards four times
- leap forwards once
- take one step back
If the coach calls out a skill without saying “Coach Says” first, and a participant moves to do the skill, they must return to the start line.
Note to Coach: Say the skill names quickly to make the game challenging.
A gymnast game designed to allow the demonstration of learned or known skills, teams of three to five students take ten minutes to prepare a talent routine. The other teams serve as spectators during each performance. At the end, all teams write down who they think did the best routine, but cannot vote for themselves. The winner is the team with the most votes. Participants learn teamwork and practice creativity.
In this game of animal mimicking, the coach calls out animal names and gymnasts act out the movements of each animal. Mixing exercise and creativity provides both learning and fun. Try the following animals:
- Crabs – crawl on hands and feet with stomachs facing up
- Kangaroo – using different jumps
- Tiger – a low crouching crawl
- Rabbit – hopping from a squatting position
- Duck – moving forward in a squat with hands on sides at waist
Pretend Animals is a game that develops various muscle groups and increases exercise strength in the body core, arms, and legs.
Balance Beam Challenges
Concentration, necessary for any balance beam activity, requires practice. The following balance beam challenges provide that practice, plus are fun for gymnasts.
- Bean Bag Toss
This game requires your gymnasts to shift their center of gravity while tossing a bean bag into a bucket or bowl. Participants take turns standing in the middle of the balance beam, earning points for each bag that goes into the bucket or bowl. If they step off the beam when they make a toss, they do not get a point, even if the bean bag is tossed successfully. The first player who gets ten points wins this gymnastic challenge.
A balance beam challenge involving teamwork and creativity, Switch has your group members compete to see who gets the most points. Two participants begin on opposite ends of the balance beam. When they meet in the center, they must switch position in any way possible, i.e. bend, turn, twist, or lie down, etc. The gymnasts cannot step off the beam or lift the other person. The participant with the most successful attempts at crossing the balance beam wins this challenge.
- How Many Birdies
A balance game for large groups, How Many Birdies, challenges gymnasts to see how many can fit on a slowly shortened balance beam. Participants get on the beam one at a time. Once everyone is comfortably on the full-length beam, shorten the beam by six inches and begin a new round. Each time the coach shortens the balance beam, it becomes more difficult to fit everyone on the beam. The game ends when the beam becomes too short to fit everyone on it no matter what moves and positioning gymnasts attempt.
- Some simple balance beam exercises:
- Use pool noodles to Joust on the balance beam.
- Have your gymnast throw sponges while balancing on the bar.
Gym Workout Games
Gym workouts games add a special ingredient of fun to your efforts to gain strength and burn calories. Try to get others in the gym to get involved in playing these games that help you lose fat and tone your muscle groups.
Play a game of catch with more or more gym friends while standing on one leg. Start relatively close together and keep moving farther away. If you alternate your feet, you work the muscles in both legs.
Ropes and Hoops
Begin by setting up two stations, one with hula hoops and the other with jump ropes. Depending upon the number of jump ropes and hula hoops, you can have players compete individually or in teams. Set a timer for participants to hula hoop and jump rope for two minutes for each activity. Each person gets one point for each jump and one for each revolution of the hula hoop. The person or team that gets the most points wins this gym game.
A workout game that strengthens core muscles and improves balance, begin by standing upright with back straight and hands on hips. Place the bottom of your right foot on the side of your left knee and tighten your abdominal muscles. All competitors do so at the same time and the person able to stand in this position the longest wins a round. The next round, standing on your right foot and place your left foot on the side of your right knee. If you wish, you can increase the difficulty of this gym workout game by standing on yoga balance pods, if they are available.
Pass and Catch
You will need ten or more participants standing in a wide circle. Each participant extends their arms out to their sides, touching the player’s fingertips on each side. The players pass a bouncing medicine ball (medium sized) to any other player in the circle. The thrower can pass underhand, overhand, or with one or more bounces. When a player catches the ball, they take a step back. If a player misses a catch, they are out of the game. The winner is the last player left.
Challenging Gym Games
Some gym games prove challenging because of the tasks involved, time limits, or the need to have the highest score. Your group will find the following games provide an added thrill during gym time.
You will need several old blankets or heavy large sheets (double or queen size). Divide your group into two or more teams of six to eight players. The goal is to drag the sheet or blanket to the end of the gym with a body or bodies lying or sitting on it.
- One team member lies down on the blanket.
- Slowly increase the number of team members on the blanket for each successive race.
- Have the entire team on the blanket, rolling and scooting to the goal.
- Play as a relay race with pairs within the teams. Each pair drags their partner to the end and back and the next pair of partners takes their turn.
This gym challenge game develops strength and promotes cooperation.
A version of hockey using brooms, a rubber ball, and box or bucket goals for two or more players, this game is for two or more players in any size area. Set your goals at opposite ends of the playing area. Create your teams and have your players begin in the center of the room. Opposing teams attempt to hit the ball into the opposite goal while the goalie blocks shots however possible. Assess penalties for delaying the game, holding the puck with feet or hands, and unnecessary roughness. If a team has a penalty, the other team gets a free shot. If your group is very large, limit the team size and change out players when a team scores.
Another gym game that works with two or more people, begin by designating one person to be the thrower, and everyone else catchers. Provide the thrower several lightweight, bouncing, exercise balls – one a different color than the others. The thrower stands about ten feet away from the catchers and throws the balls in rapid succession. The catchers attempt to catch the different colored ball and when a player does so, they receive a point. The leader or coach sets the number of points for a win and the player reaching this point goal first is the winner.
Blindfolded Four Corners
A quick, challenging, gym game requiring players to remain quiet, Blindfolded Four Corners works for a medium to large group of players. Blindfold one player and have them stand in the middle of the room. The other players now take their places at the four corners of the room very silently – no talking! – while the coach or leader counts to ten. If a player is not in a corner when the counting is complete, they are out of the game. The blindfolded player points to one of the four corners, and all the players in that corner are out of the game. However, if no one is standing in the corner pointed to, the players have five seconds to get to a different corner before the blindfolded player points to a new corner. The last person left in the game gets to be the next person blindfolded.
Team Gym Games
Team gym games take competition to a new level. The first game does not require an even number on each team. One game can be played without any equipment or props. Additionally, you can vary the time for play, always convenient when you have various group sizes and abilities.
Bed Sheet Ping Pong Toss
Divide your players into two teams and have them hold a bed sheet at opposite ends. Place a ping pong ball on the sheet. The teams raise and lower the sheet in an attempt to have the ping pong ball fall off on the opposing team’s side. The winner is the team that manages to do so first. If you wish, you can play this game more than once and keep points for a specific amount of time to determine the winner.
Purchase inexpensive feathers at a craft or dollar store. Divide your group into teams and give each player a feather. Yell, “Go!” and instruct the players to keep the feathers in the air by blowing. The team that has the most feathers in the air at the end of a set time, wins this game.
Run Rabbit Run
Name your two equally divided teams “Foxes” and “Rabbits.” The rabbits line up at one end of the playing area (their home), but the foxes scatter all over the gym. The rabbits go for a walk with their Captain. The leader of the fox pack says, “Run, Rabbit, run!” and all the rabbits run back to their home trying not to be tagged by the foxes. Any tagged rabbits become foxes. The game ends when all the rabbits have become foxes.
A team gym game for any size group, teams compete against each other in a variety of activities developing flexibility, muscular endurance and strength, and body composition.
- Have your teams line up in horizontal single lines on opposite sides of the playing area.
- The first person on each team runs to the middle of the playing area and receives an activity to do along with a standard playing card.
- The coach or leader may use activity cards or simply assign an activity.
- The playing card tells the participant how many times the team must perform the task. For example, if a two is drawn, the activity must be performed twice; if a queen is drawn, the activity must be performed twelve times; and if an ace is drawn, the activity must be performed fourteen times.
- Each activity is only performed once, so if players draw a card already used, they must choose a different card. The next person in each line goes next. The game continues until all the activity cards are gone or the coach has given out all the activities.
- The team that finishes first wins this fun challenge.
- Hop on one foot – right and left
- Jump rope without a rope
- Jump up and down
- Jumping jacks
- Left and right sideway leg lifts
- Push ups
- Run in place
- Scissor jump-steps
- Sit ups
Our collection of gym games provide fun for school gym classes, gymnastic lessons, and adult gym participants. Whatever your group size or composition, we have a gym game for you. Have fun!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.