Time: 15 – 20 minutes
Materials: 2×4 Lumber 8′ to 10′ in length – Quantity depends on number of participants
Rope cut into lengths of 6′ each – Quantity also depends on number of participants but you want 3 sections of rope for every 2 pieces of lumber
Setup: You should break your players into groups of approximately 10 to 15 players per group. Each group is given 2 pieces of the 2×4 lumber and 3 sections of the 6′ rope. The groups are to line up behind the goal line in the end zone with their materials. They have 5 minutes to meet as a group with their materials, but are not allowed to touch their materials during this 5 minute brainstorm session. They are given instructions on how the activity will work by one coach.
Instructions: Each group has the materials in front of them but behind the goal line. The groups will have 5 minutes to brain storm how they are going to get their entire team from behind the goal line to across the 50 yard line. Each group should designate one person on their team their “team leader”. Only that team leader is allowed to have their feet touch the turf on the journey from the goal line to the 50 yard line. Every other member must make their way on their journey using the materials given to them. No exceptions to this, each team member is not allowed to touch the turf with any part of their body, and if at any time during the activity a part of their body touches the turf, they must start over. Teams must stay in their lanes of the field, cannot influence any other team during their attempts, and every team member must make it across. They have 10 minutes to complete the activity after they have completed their 5 minute brain storming session.
What you will see: As the activity leader you will see the gears spinning while the teams are brain storming. Encourage other coaches to make their way around to the groups to field any questions you might have and listen to who of your players are taking the lead. It is important to go around and get a feel for who of your players takes a leadership role and gathers their team, and whether or not the team is listening and trusting of what the leader is saying. Very rarely will you find that teams have a back up plan. Most often times you will see teams come up with a plan and assume that one plan is the way to go. They automatically assume they will not run into any problems during the course of the activity. This is something to take note of for review when you wrap up the activity. If you have a team that does come up with several plans, good for them and commend them on that after the activity.
You will more than likely see teams try and use their “leader” to pull their members from the goal line to the 50 yard line as if they are a dog pulling a sled. This may work but more than likely the leader will get tired and will not be able to get every team member across in the time allotted. This is something to note for wrap up at the end. Not one team leader can pull the entire team by himself!!! This is a team sport and should be played as a team sport at all times. All of the team must be working together at all times in order to be successful.
How it should work: The best way I have found to get the team across the 50 yard line is to have the 2×4’s flat on ground parallel to each other pointing toward the 50 yard line like you are getting ready to ski. Tie the sections of rope from one 2×4 to the other at both ends and in the middle. These will act as handles for the players to lift up on and it will lift the 2×4 accordingly. Each player should, and you can have multiple players go at once, stand on the 2×4’s like they are going to ski across the field. As they lift their left legs together, pull the left 2×4 up and move it forward, and then do the same with the right. Alternating their legs as a team, and pulling the rope to lift the boards in coordination is the fastest way to get multiple people across the field. Once they get across, the team leader who can have his feet on the turf can take the materials back to the rest of the members waiting to go across.
You will see them lie the boards down on the turf like a balance beam and walk across them, as the team leader helps move the boards from front to back. This can work, but remember if someone falls off the balance beam, they have to start over at the beginning. If you are like us, you have kids with bad balance, this will be fun to watch. 🙂
Wrap up: The goal of this exercise is to work together as a team. Not one person is going to be able to do all the work by himself and be successful as a team. He will get tired and his performance will then suffer. There are multiple ways to get across the field, the key is to work as a team. As coaches, pay close attention to who took the lead and make those kids realize you noticed their efforts! It is important as a coach that you know who is going to take the lead in the 4th quarter when the going gets tough. Talk to the kids and get their thoughts on the exercise. Ask them how the felt when things weren’t working out all that well. Ask them if they had to change their original thoughts or if their first ideas worked. Ask them if the same person who took the lead at the beginning of the exercise was their leader at the end of the exercise.
As a coaching staff, did you learn who your leaders are going to be? Different kids are good at different skills, did you notice anyone in particular who stood out during this activity who you wouldn’t have originally thought? Remember how you tie everything together at the end of the exercise is just as important as the exercise itself. Make sure the kids know the purpose of the activity or the activity itself is wasted.
I hope you enjoyed reading about this. I plan on updating this page frequently with different activities that we have tried. If you or your staff have any activities you have done, or would like me to feature, please contact me and we can get it up here.