Here is a list of games that can be played on skis that will help to develop ski skills. Give them a try with your group. This list of games was compiled by the Nakkertok Nordic Cross Country Ski Club. Thank you to Nakkertok for allowing us to use this list on our site!
Bring a big container of Bubble Soap mix and wands for the coaches. Then let clouds of bubbles fly and have the kids chase them on their skis.
The skiers stand in a circle and sing to the tune of the Hokey Pokey: “You put your right ski in, you take your right ski out, and shake it all about. You do the HokeyPokey and you turn yourself around…” Then repeat with different parts of the body. Then, finish with everyone sliding into the center of the circle for one last rousing round.
Have the skiers lean forward like Superman or Superwoman and test how far they’re willing to lean from the ankles before they move the other foot.
Skiers try many little steps forward and feel the balls of their feet pushing off.
Skiers try many little steps rather than big ones. Ask them to use a certain number of steps to get from one point to another. Bring the number down as they improve. Change directions. Count with them.
Duck, Duck, Goose
Partners line up facing each other. Pair at the head of the line create a bridge with their arms which all other pairs must duck under. As soon as the second pair of skiers duck under the bridge, they create another bridge with their arms. Every pair builds a bridge when they finish coming through the tunnel of arms. Ask the group to travel around trees or other areas with their moving bridges. If advanced enough, progress to gentle slope.
Skiers while remaining in one place, step from ski to ski, keeping only one ski on the “burning” snow at a time.
Skiers run in place on the skis, changing the tempo from slow to fast.
The Leader places bamboo poles or other objects that the skiers must step-over. Have the skiers initiate the step-over with the right leg, then the left leg.
Have the group stand in a circle and while tossing a soft ball, call out the name of the person to whom they are throwing the ball to. After expand to have the skier glide to where the ball was thrown.
Follow the Leader
Have the group follow the Leader doing the movements that reflect the skills acquired in the L1 & L2 (i.e., crouching, standing up, turning around in a circle – both directions.
Skiers take off one ski and glide on the other one, pushing off with the free foot.
Set up cones or poles to ski around. The goal is to encourage several direction changes. Have 3 or 4 sets of cones or poles on the course at the same time. Increase the level of difficulty by installing poles closer together or try a course on a gentle slope. Vary the instruction, (i.e., completely circle around a cone going left, then right, try it backwards…). Although you should be changing activities quite often, skiers normally enjoy playing in these quite a bit. Demonstrate the skill and break it down into four steps.
Skiers choose their favourite pie. To avoid being tagged, they make a pie shape with their skis and shout out their favourite kind of pie. Pie positions can only last 5 seconds, so players must keep moving.
Red Light-Green Light
If strong enough, have skiers play on gentle slope.
The Leader establishes a course with several stations where skiers must perform certain tasks before they proceed to the next station (i.e., throw a ball in a garbage can). Challenge them to diagonal stride the course the first time, and then free skate the second time around.
A hunter, the “wolf” chases the rabbits round the wolf ring. Skiing is permitted in one direction only around the ring across each of the diameters. When the wolf tags a rabbit that person becomes a wolf as well. Game continues until the last rabbit is tagged. Circle size can vary according to the age of the Jackrabbits.
Follow the Leader
A gentle ski incorporating their stretches. Keep the group small so that even the last in line still does the activity. A variation is to lead the group out, do a stretch, then have the first Jackrabbit lead on while you wait and encourage the others in their stretch. When the last Jackrabbit has finished, reverse the line and lead on to start the next stretch.
The old game where the one who gets caught becomes Simon and continues to try and trick the rest. The group follows your movements as long as Simon says “Simon says” no one should move if Simon forgets to say “Simon says” first e.g., Simon says reach high in the sky, Simon says touch your toes, Simon says twist at the waist, clap your hands. No one should have clapped their hands.
Steal the Pole
Two concentric rings of ski poles (inner ring=6m; outer ring = 9m) are formed where the outer ring has one less pole than the number of skiers. The Jackrabbits ski around within the inner circle until a signal is given by the Leader, at which point they try to claim a pole from the outer circle as theirs. Another pole is now removed. Those who won go back to the inner circle and the one who lost skis around the outside of the outer circle. At a signal from the leader, everyone tries to get to a pole. Assuming that the skier on the outside can reach a pole before those in the circle, there should be two losers from the group that were inside. These two ski around the outside and those who got a pole ski within the inner circle. Continue removing a pole each time.
A schmeritz is a tube sock with a tennis ball dropped in the toe and a knot tied in the sock. Two goal lines are created and field goal ring (field = rectange 30m by 15m; field goal ring=1.5m). A touchdown (6 points) is scored by carrying the ball across the oppositions goal line; a field goal (1 point) is scored by throwing the schmeritz into the circle. The idea is to pass the schmeritz. If tagged while holding it, the tagging team gets a free throw. Each team should have a goalie to protect the circle. If the schmeritz is being carried too long by the skiers, enforce a three stride and then pass rule.
Scissors, Paper, Rock
Each team has a safe line and an attack line (two safe lines parallel to each other 20m apart; two attack lines inside the safe lines and only 4m apart). The idea is to have one team chase the other team and catch them before they reach their safe line. Make sure that the skiers are spread out along the attack line as one team will have to turn around to escape. As to how to decide which team becomes the attackers and which team runs, this can vary according to the age group. For young Jackrabbits, the schmeritz can be whirled and thrown in the direction the skiers are to go according to the Leader’s whim. For older Jackrabbits, you can use rock, scissors, paper game. Each side huddles and decides on a call (rock, scissors, or paper). On a signal from the leader, each group shouts their call and the winning side becomes the attacker. The leader should assist by deciding the winner appointing in the direction of attack as the Jackrabbits don’t often hear what the other group call.
A game for improving balance with or without skis. Skiers face each other in pairs. Make sure there is lots of room between pairs. Pairs face each other and hold hands in a boxing position with open palms. At a signal from you they attempt to push each other off balance. Faking, dodging, etc are allowed, but falling down or even a shift in feet to retain balance means you lose.
Played within a 6m ski pole circle, the skiers ski about until a number is called by the leader. At this point, skiers must form groups of this number, hold hands and crouch down.
Played within a 6m ski pole circle, the skiers ski about until a colour is called by the leader. Players must thenstop and touch that colour on another skier’s clothing. More than one person can touch the same skier. More fun is had by picking a colour which is only on the socks or gloves of a couple of skiers.
Skin the Snake
Take off skies for this game. Jackrabbits stand in a straight line and reach forward with their right hand to grasp the hand of the skier in front of them. They put their left hand between their legs for the person to grasp. The last person now lies down and the line backs up until the second last person can lie down and so on until everyone is lying down. Then reverse the process until all are standing. This could be a relay race as well.
Played within a 6m ski pole circle, one person is “IT” and another is “HOT SPOT”. When IT tags a person that person must remain frozen with their hand touching the tagged part of the body. They remain frozen until HOT SPOT touches them on the frozen spot. Change IT and HOT SPOT frequently and you can more than one IT.
Played within a 6m ski pole circle, skiers either put an arm around each others waist or hold hands. One pair is IT until they touch another pair. No touch backs.
Same as Hug Tag except the pairs hold hands so that they are facing each other forcing one of the pair to move backwards as the other moves forwards.
Played within a ski pole circle. When IT tags another person he holds hands with IT as does each person who is tagged by the chain. Game continues until everyone is part of the chain. You can have two IT and form to chains and the chain with the most people wins.
Penny, Penny, Who’s Got the Penny?
Divide Jackrabbits into two groups. One person on one team is given a penny. The other team does not know which opposing member has the penny. The penny carrier has to try and get the penny to his team’s castle, which is the opponents zone. The person who has the penny must show it if they are tagged. The rest of the team act as decoys.
Two lines are formed in a gauntlet fashion. One person has the opportunity to ski down the line slowly as the others do anything they can do or say to make this person laugh or at least smile. Touching is not permitted. A great opportunity to let your juvenile foolishness run rampant!
Catch the Dragon’s Tail
Best without skis! Eight to ten people form a line by putting their arms around the person in front of them. The last person tucks a scarf in their back pocket or pants. At a signal, the lead person tries to catch the tail. When he is successful he becomes the tail and the second person becomes the lead. As a variation you might have two dragons and each trying to catch the other’s tail.
Hounds and Hares
Hares have a small flag (crepe paper) tucked into their pants and are given two minutes to ski off anywhere within the game area (vary according to age). Hounds are then sent out to catch the hare’s flags. After ten minutes a whistle is blow and everyone returns. No taking flags after the whistle. Count the number of flags that the hounds have captured and switch roles to see which team does better. Those who lose their flag continue to play by acting as decoys.
Two versions are given below, but I am sure you can adapt them to suit your situation as necessary
- The version uses snowballs. If the snow is the type that packs very hard, you might be better to use a beach ball or volleyball.
- A 1m diameter circle serves as home plate. Each team consists of five players: one for each base, a catcher and a pitcher. The pitcher makes a snowball and pitches it underhand to home plate. If it does not land in the circle, it is a ball. If it does land in the circle, it is a strike unless hit by the batter.
- If it is hit by the batter, he tries to ski to first or second base before getting out. The runner can be put out either by being hit with a snowball thrown by the pitcher or by being tagged with a snowball which the pitcher has tossed to the base man.
- Follow the usual rules of baseball, but improvise the game work for your group.
- Three batters, a catcher, a pitcher and three base men play work-your-way-up baseball. Use a big plastic bat and schmeritz for a ball. Balls and strikes as above. Otherwise regular baseball rules apply. As an out occurs, the person who is out becomes the third base, third base becomes second, etc, with the catcher becoming the batter. If the third batter I up with the other two on base, he has to hit someone home or he is out.
These can be as simple as sending the group out to pick up the garbage with the largest pile being the winner, or as complicated as ones which have clues or poems at each station directing the Jackrabbits to the next station. For older Jackrabbits you might introduce them to orienteering with the next stations location and approximate distance leading them through the course.
Another version consists of putting letters A to Z (or less) on trees around the course with the simple picture on the other side of the tree. The Jackrabbits are given a pre-printed page on which they have to join the matching letters and picture (good for a Jackrabbit Fun Day).
Crows and Cranes
Divide the group into two teams – Crows and Cranes. Use a crepe paper flag or have one team all wear toques. On a signal, the whole group scatters over the playing area and on a whistle freeze where they are. The leader now calls either Crows or Cranes. The team called is chased by the other team e.g., if Crows is called, the cranes chase the crows. If caught a new crow becomes a crane and vice-versa. Freeze, chase, freeze chase and so on until one team is all caught.
A soft, air-filled ball (volleyball is required. Divide the group into two teams, the “in” and the “outs”. The outs form a large circle (12m) within which the “ins” can move freely. One of the “outs” is given the ball and the game begins. The object is for the “outs” to knock the “ins” out of the circle. No hits allowed the shoulder. If the ball does not make it to the edge of the circle, an “out” may enter the circle but cannot throw until he returns to his place on the edge. Each “in” that is hit leaves the circle. Exchange places when the “ins” are all out. If you like time each group to see who can eliminate the other team more quickly. The size of the circle depends on the throwing ability of the Jackrabbits.
Beat the field
Two teams are formed, hitters and fielders. The hitting team lines up in a row facing the field. The fielding team is scattered. The first person on the hitting team hits a tennis ball, volleyball, etc., with his hand and then proceeds to ski around his team. As soon as one person on the fielding team has fielded the ball, the rest of his team lines up behind him and the ball is passed, from hand to hand, between their legs until it gets to the last person who yells, “STOP!”. One point is scored for each complete circuit. That hitter goes to the end of his line and the second person hits. When one side is done, hitters and fielders switch sides. Keep the teams fairly small (6 or less).
Use a loop which takes 20-30 minutes (modify according to age, 10-15 minutes for younger Jackrabbits) to complete. All skiers except for one (the fastest or the leader) start racing around the loop. The pursuer waits five minute or so and then chases the others. Each skier he catches is tagged and must turn around and return to the start. The first skier to return wins. If it appears some are dogging it in order to sprint back to the start, the chase skier can wait longer.
Clothes Pin Tag
Played in a ski pole circle, choose three rabbits and give the rest of the group three clothes pins each. The winner is the person who can pin a clothes pin on the collar or hood of each of the rabbits. Note after one person catches a rabbit and is pinned, he has 10 seconds to move away.
Fox and Rabbit
Mark out a square for boundaries as large as the skills of the Jackrabbits allow. The rabbits hide between a pair of poles (trees). One skier is an extra rabbit and is one is the fox. If the fox catches the rabbit, they exchange so that the tagged rabbit is now the fox. The rabbit may at any time tag one of the other rabbits hiding in the trees. This rabbit now becomes the one being pursued. If you have enough Jackrabbits, you can have two foxes and two rabbits to chase.
Duck, Duck, Goose
Form a 10m circle with the Jackrabbits facing in. One Jackrabbit is on the outside of the circle and skies around saying “duck, duck, duck” as he touches each jackrabbit on the back. When he touches one Jackrabbit and says “Goose”, the Jackrabbit touched must leave his place and they both race around the circle. First one into the vacant space wins. You could also have the two toucher going in opposite directions.
Form a ski pole circle. Each train consists of an engine, one to three carsand a caboose. You also need one person who is the switcher. You can have as many trains as the area permits. The engines try to steer their train away from the switcher. The switcher tries to tag a caboose. The caboose, when tagged, becomes a switcher also and the last care is the new caboose. (You can’t tag your own train). The winner is the last train or engine left.
In pairs, Jackrabbits draw a giant rabbit in the snow using their skis. Then the group skis from rabbit to rabbit to decide which pair is the Picasso of the future.
Jump the Clock
The group spreads out (lots of space is required between each skier). All face twelve o’clock. When the leader shouts “three”, they try and turn 90 degrees so that their skis face three o’clock. The jump back to twelve and on it goes. With some practice, some may make it to 6 o’clock.
Streets and Alleys
This is a fun way to form a teaching grid. In pairs, the skiers line up facing the same direction about 2-3m apart. When the leader shouts “Street!”, the back person has to try and catch the front person. When the leader shouts “Alleys”, they turn around and the chaser becomes the chased.
Form a ski pole circle. The skiers freely ski within the circle until a number is called. If five is called, the Jackrabbits must link arms in groups of five. Anyone who is left out receives a positive penalty, e.g., tell a joke, sing a song, etc.
Players line up on one side of the field and a signal from the leader attempt to cross to the other side of the field without getting tagged by “IT”. Anyone tagged also becomes IT. Game continues until all are caught.
A square area is marked out, with one side designated as ship and the other as shore. All the ship swim around in the ocean and when “Ship” is called, they have to get to the ship and to shore when “Shore” is called. When “Fish Gobbler” is called, they all link arms within a count of twenty or the “Fish Gobbler” (leader) will get them. When “Sardines” is called, they all have to cram into a small square in one corner before the count of twenty. This is a good game for the young skiers as there is no penalty for being gobbled other than you get caught.
Children switch back and forth between strides made in a deep crouch to strides with the body and arms stretched upward. Once children have mastered this imitation, a realy race can be set up.
Two groups stand at opposite ends of parallel tracks, facing one another; at a signal, both sides start off and each tries to reach the starting place of the opposition before that group reaches theirs. Run races and relays over short stretches of a track.
Steal the Poles
A version of the Musical Chairs. The players stand about 2 m apart in a single line. Some poles are stuck in the snow in a row 20-30m away. The number of poles being less than the number of players. At a signal, each player races to get a pole. The loser, the one who finds himself empty handed, has the chore of setting up the poles for the next round.
Each of the following questions can easily be the theme of a race or relay activity:
- Who can glide the farthest on skis?
- Who can glide from one point to another on one ski and how far?
- Who can take the fewest strides between two points?
- Skiing in pairs develops and challenges stability skills: make two teams, skiers in pairs must ski to a pole, catch, bring and tag next pair of team members.
For 1, 2 and 3 record the results and compare with those from later on in the season.
This can be played with any number of people, with or without skis. The simple rules are: Any group of two players hugging (or holding hands) are a “free zone”, and cannot be tagged. Players may start and stop hugging each other whenever they want. The person who’s “IT” can hug people too. But you’re still IT until you find somebody who’s unhugged and tag them.
Holding Hands Tag
You need a relatively large flat area. With skis and no poles, two “IT” skiers hold hands and chase others. Tagged skiers join the chain holding hands. Game ends when everyone is on the chain.
Variation: large groups require more chains.
Double Pole Race
You need two teams. Skiers stand one behind the other holding the waist of the skier in front. Lead skier double poles pulling the other skier or skiers to a point.
- Lead skier pulls one or more depending on terrain;
- Relays with other skiers waiting at a point ahead;
- Skiers behind do snowplow;
This game tests the ability to move quickly and maintain balance. The leader stands in front of the group and points different directions (forward, backward, sideways) to which the group moves to. Directions can be called out as well. If two players collide, they are eliminated.
Varations: Arrange the class into a large circle. The teacher calls out “Hop Left”, “Slide right”, “Jump left”, etc.
Crows and Owls
Purpose: Work on turning (stationary) and forward movement without poles.
Set Up: Form two equal teams. One team is “Crows” and the other team is “Owls”, they form lines one team facing the other separated by 20-30m. The line they start on is their “home”.
The instructor makes a statement that is easily identified as true or false. If it is true the Owls (who are wise and honest) chase the Crows; if it is false the Crows (who are sly, devious and don’t always know the truth chase the Owls). The team being chased must turn around and ski past the poles identifying their home. If they are touched by someone from the other team before they get home they join that team.
To adapt according to the number of people. Form two lines facing each other about 1.5m apart.
One skier skis down the line. The others try to make him/her laught as he/she skis down the line. They can do whatever they want to make them laugh except touching.
Catch the Dragon’s Tail
About eight to ten people line up, one behind the other. Everyone puts their arms around the waist of the person in front of them. The last person in line tucks a handkerchief in the back of this pocket or in the back of his toque. To work up steam, the dragon might let out a few cries.
At the signal, the dragon begins chasing its own tail, the object being for the person at the head of the line to snatch the handkerchief. When the head finally captures the tail, it dons the handkerchief and becomes the new tail, while second from the front becomes the new head.
Variation: Two dragons trying to catch each other’s tails is formidable and also a great time
This list of games was compiled by the Nakkertok Nordic Cross Country Ski Club. See the original here: