Youth Fitness Training Tug-Of-War?


Youth Fitness Training Sample program from Dr. Kwame Brown


Skip Tag 10 minutes


  • Cones (and line chalk if you have it) to mark off area
  • Colored pinnies (optional)



  • Split into teams at opposite corners of the area
  • The first group is “it” (pick a color for them)
  • The second group is to be chased (wearing the other color)
  • Instruct the students that they must skip only
  • If anyone is tagged or caught running, they must do 5 lunges to get back in
  • The game round is over when everyone on Team 2 is tagged.  Roles are reversed



  • Call out “freeze” randomly to keep it unpredictable
  • Make sure that you instruct students on proper touching
  • If the students can’t touch lightly, give them something soft like a balled up t-shirt to tag with



  • Agility
  • Teamwork
  • Acceleration



Wheelbarrow to Walking Lunge   5-10 minutes


  • Students only!



  • Student 1 will hold the feet of Student 2
  • Student 2 will be instructed to attempt to keep the belly in and the body straight, while walking on his/her hands
  • Student 1 will be instructed to use his or her legs and back muscles to stay “strong” while holding Student 2
  • Students will be asked how far they think they can go on the first round, this distance will be what they choose
  • On the way back, they will separate and do a “slow motion” walking lunge contest – whoever goes the deepest and slowest wins…self determination medals!



  • Some students will have trouble with the wheelbarrow walk.  Have them just practice getting into the initial position repetitively
  • Instruct “soft landings” for students who are walking on the hands



  • Core Strength / Postural Control
  • Teamwork / Cooperation
  • Upper Body Strength / Control
  • Behavioral Regulation


Cooperative Tug of War   10 minutes

Thick Nylon Rope, knotted at 10 places on each side



  • Students are split into two teams of up to 10 each
  • Each student will grab the rope in front of a knot to get a good grip
  • The idea here is to pull back and forth and present just enough challenge to make it difficult, but NOT to end the game by pulling others off balance
  • This takes communication back and forth between teams
  • Play several rounds, each taking 60 seconds



  • Instruct the students to try different configurations
    • Drop low for balance
    • One leg or lunge position for balance challenge
    • Involve movement back and forth with torso
  • Make the final round competitive – give students a chance to use what they explored



  • Upper, lower body strength
  • Rotational Strength
  • Proprioception
  • Self regulation
  • Cooperation



“Pull-up Rescue”   10 minutes


  • Towels
  • Students



  • Student 1 will lie supine on the ground, holding the end of a towel in each hand
  • Student 2 will stand and take the other ends of the two towels
  • Student 2 will pull Student 1 up, but Student 1 will help by “walking” with the feet to attempt to stand



  • Concept:  Friends help friends who help themselves!
  • Discuss with students how they can use the “bend” in their hips and knees to help their back muscles



  • Cooperation
  • Leg / Core strength
  • Pulling Strength
  • Problem Solving
  • Grip Strength



Is It Any Surprise That of ALL the Qualified Professionals in Youth Fitness Training Worldwide, I Asked Dr. Kwame Brown to Co-Author our ‘Youth Fitness Specialist – Level 1’ Certification with Me?


Have a Look —> https://iyca.org/fitspecialist1/




9 Responses

  1. Brendan Murray says:

    One small observation, and suggestion.

    Early in this description of the activity, anyone caught running had to do 5 lunges to get back in.

    I would not recommend that you use any physical exercise to “punish” any child.

    The whole object of the exercise is to give children a love of exercise, not to regard it as a punishment.

    I suggest that it would be better to use “miss a turn” or one minute “time out”
    That way, they will be “missing out on the fun” of the activity, and they themselves will want to get back in.

  2. Carmine Colasurdo says:

    I feel it is fine to have them do exercise to get back in the game. If it is explained that it is not a “punishment” but instead is another way to practice the movements they have been learning, the child will look at it that way. While they are doing it you could actually tell them how good they are performing the movement. Just another way of looking at it.

  3. Joy Garrison says:

    You can bet the kids would rather pump out some lunges and get back in the game rather than sit out for a minute or miss a turn. Push ups are good too.

  4. Dr. Kwame M. Brown says:

    Thanks Brendan:

    As usual, you bring up an important issue. This is more open to debate than one might think at face value. While I agree with the initial value of your statement as a principle, a more nuanced discussion is necessary here

    1) “punishment” and the perception of the “violence” or “anger” of that punishment, is largely a function of mood. When I do this, it is another part of the game. It is done just as playfully as the rest of the game (I say “uh-oh” with a huge smile a lot). This is a far cry from doing this in a “workout” session, where drill sargent-like consequences are barked at kids. Young ones are very perceptive of mood and intention, and will usually respond to such, as long as they feel like they have some independence and control. It is the play “discussion” we are looking for here.

    2) Children are learning behavioral regulation and rule use at this age (starting really earnestly at around 3-4 years of age and continuing through late adolescence / early adulthood). Play doesn’t just give us the ability to be silly and have fun, but to explore rules and regulation in a non-pressurized way.

    3) The prospect of having kids just sit out often has the unfortunate effect that the kids who wouldn’t be moving, move less. I have seen kids in these cases break the rules on purpose to sit out. Remember movement, by this age range, is not a natural part of life for many kids, so we have to find ways to keep them included.

    4) This is a really sneaky way to work on emerging lunge technique / form while the other kids aren’t really watching. I should have mentioned this as well.

    Thanks, Brendan – without your comment I would not have been prompted to go into this much detail. That’s why challenge and discussion are super important in what we do. That’s why the IYCA provides multiple opportunities for that. I just wish sometimes I had more time in the day to participate in those opportunities…

    Any one else, including Brendan, want to chime in on this more?

  5. Great game ideas!

    Regarding the previous comment, I also do not believe in giving exercise as punishment for the same reason. I look at punishment as something that is given out for misbehaviour and not necessarily because they were tagged “out” in a game. I believe it is appropriate to give them exercise as method to get back into the game. This way they are motivated to do the exercise to get back in play and have fun. Otherwise, the referee adults are spending time monitoring “time outs” instead of watching the game. I do this with my kids’ games, such as Dodge Ball, and it works great.

    Keep the game ideas coming!

  6. Cory says:

    I agree with points made by both Dr. Kwame Brown and Brendan above. I think far too often we see coaches using exercise as punishment (especially in the youth sports world) and its good that we recognize the problem that poses for young people and their relationship to training.

    The point Dr. Brown brings up about learning rules (and thus rule manipulation) is very important. Just as we coaches and trainers will manipulate a game to serve other ends (learning rules, secretly improving lunge technique in a non-pressure situation), students will take advantage of any loopholes in the game logic to meet their own needs.

    I’m not a fan of “punishing” kids with exercise but neither am I a fan of sitting them out because not only are they not physically engaged but they are also mentally checked out from whatever it is we’re doing. If it’s a sport, I make them my helper (feeding passes, collecting balls, etc.) so that they are still learning and getting practice in but they realize they’re not getting the full benefit of the activity.

    In Dr. Brown’s set up I feel that a positive response to lunging is garnered being that the more willing you are to do lunges the quicker you can re-enter play. “Missing a turn” or “time-out” seem like more punishing responses to rule breaking. They are likely being put on “time-out” at school or at home if they are especially energetic and too much negative reinforcement will either encourage more bad behavior or disinterest altogether.

  7. Mike says:

    Although I understand Brenadan’s perspective, I think we have you look at the purpose of the game and the environment it is played in.

    The key is the environment.

  8. Maki says:

    Is there a DVD or product that you sell or can suggest with these kind of games. I train a lot of figure skaters who are under the ages of 10. I incorporate this style of approach already but would love to have more ideas to pull from.

  9. admin says:

    Hi Maki,

    Complete Athlete Development contains DVD footage of actual training programs for kids aged 6-18 as well as sample programs, an exercise database (with photographs), warm-up templates and more.

    You can learn more at http://completeathletedevelopment.com/

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