Sports and Other Competitions

Some of these games obvioulsy are meant to be played in open areas, gyms, large rooms (where there is nothing breakable) and other specific environments (Hari-ball, for instance, is played inside water). As a general recommendation we do advice that once in a while Bhakti-vrksa groups do something completely different from the standard weekly meeting. They can have a picnic or some other form of outing. Some of these games will add fun to youth groups, retreat, summer camps and other special gatherings. This selection is offered especially with youngsters in mind, but anyone who is young at heart might also love to get involved.

Balloons in the Air
Materials: balloons, one for each player
Give everyone an inflated balloon. The balloons should be in different colours or should have identifiable marks or names. Every participant tosses the balloon in the air and tries to keep it off the floor while simultaeously trying to get everyone elses' balloon to touch the floor. When a player's balloon touches the floor, he/she is out for the round. The last person whose balloon is still in the air wins.

Lemonade Makers

Materials: a table, lemons, sugar, paper cups, and water.

Divide the group in two teams having the same number of players. Put three cups across on both ends of the table (how many rows as team members). In the first row of cups put a slice of lemon, in the second row put a teaspoon of sugar and in the third put water. Make the two teams stand at some distance from the table, behind a line. At the “Go!” one player from each team starts: they have to run to the table, pick the first cup and to eat the lemon. Then they have to pick up the second cup and pour the sugar into their mouth, then they have to pick up the third cup and drink the water. Then they have to jump up and down three times to shake the lemonade. They must then run back and tag the next person in line. The first team to complete the operation wins.

Devas and Asuras Aluminum-ball War

Materials: a roll of aluminum foil, a large room (it can be played outside).

Divide your group (any size) in two teams: Devas and Asuras. Divide the room in two territories. Each team has a “flag” they can place anywhere in their territory, as long as there is direct access for the other team (not inside cupboards, etc.). Each team can place tables, chairs, or other "defense objects" in their territory. Supply each team with as many aluminum foil balls as possible (or with whatever small, non-hurting balls you can arrange). The objective is to get the other team's flag to your side without getting hit by an aluminum foil ball thrown by the other team. On the go it’s a firing frenzy. Whoever is hit with a ball must sit out until the next round. When the team members begin to dwindle, raids can be made on the other team's flag. The first team to capture the other team's flag scores a point. Everyone re-supplies with the aluminum foil balls and another round can begin. The game can be played as long or as short as you want. The winner could be the team who first wins 3 rounds or whatever you establish.

Survival of the Fittest 

Materials: a chair.

This game is especially for active youngsters who need to burn some extra energy. You can introduce by saying that it’s an application of the “survival of the fittest” theory, in which only the stronger remains. Put a chair in the middle and form a circle around it, with everyone holding hands. The objective of the game is to make others touch the chair, by pulling, pushing, etc. The circular link cannot be broken. Whoever touches the chair is out of the game. If the circle breaks the two people who broke the link are both out of the game. The game is over when there is only one person left. This game gets is very competitive and can get a little rough on less aggressive people.

Knock the Pole Down

Materials: a pole or something about a meter long that will stand up and is not hard to tip over.

Basically the same rules as “Survival of the Fittest”. Get everyone in a circle around the pole holding hands. The object is to get someone else to knock down the central pole. Whoever knocks the pole down leaves the circle. If the circle breaks the two people who let go leave the circle. The last person left wins.

No-snow Sled Race

Materials: carpet scraps or cardboard.
No snow? No problem! All you need are some carpet remnants (or cardboard boxes, or burlap bags, or whatever) to serve as a "sled" and the smooth floor of a large area. One participant rides the "sled" while the rest pull and push the sled around the race course you set up. This works great as a relay with everyone taking a turn as the rider, and two (or more) teams racing each other. For hilarious slippage, have the players compete on socks on a tile floor.

Electric Fence

Materials: rope.

This is a fun game and a teamwork exercise, mainly for outdoor. Set up an area surrounded by a rope about 120-150 centimeters high. The area could be triangular or square, with sides of approximately 3-4 meters of length. Trees offer a natural support to the rope. Divide the group in two teams. Place a team inside and tell them they have to get out without touching the rope or the imaginary electric fence from the rope to the ground. (They will throw people out so make sure you are not playing on broken glass, etc.). You can penalize the team every time they touch the rope (say, 10 seconds penalization). The team that gets everyone out in the shortest time wins. This game gives you a chance to see some problem-solving skills in action and how people work together.

Moving Circles

Materials: nothing

High-energy, team-cooperation game. Divide the group in two or more teams. Fix a starting and a finishing line. In each team the players lock arms in a circle and face outward, with their backs inward. Stress the need to work together to win. Teams line up at the starting line and at the “Go!” start to speed walk. The first team to completely cross the finishing line wins.

Variation 1: During the race you yell “Turn!” and the team must rotate clockwise by one player, and allow another person to face the finishing line. You can say “Turn!” as many times as you like, perhaps so that all players get one chance to face forward.

Variation 2: each team stands and walks from inside an hula-hoop, facing the outside of the hoop and holding it with both of their hands at hip level.

Crossing the River
Materials: newspapers, blindfold.

Place a number of folded newspapers on the floor, with spaces between. The newspapers represent rocks across a river and the players have to cross without getting their feet "wet", that is without stepping outside the "rocks". One by one, each player carefully notes the position of the rocks and then, after being blindfolded, start on the way to crossing the river. Who gets their feet wet more than once (or twice, it is up to you to decide how difficult you want to make it) is out. Whoever crosses in the least time wins.

Variation: Divide the group into two teams and have each team lead their blindfolded representative across the river, instructing him on how far and in which direction he should step and so on.

Classic Musical Chairs

Materials: enough chairs for every player—less one, music

Set up the chairs in a circle, as many as there are player, less one. Start the music and have the players walk or dance around the chairs. When you stop the music everyone tries to sit down on a chair. Who remains without chair is out. Start again the music and take one more chair out. Continue like this until only one person is left: that’s the winner.

Body Part Musical Chairs

Materials: chairs, music

Same dynamic as in Classic Musical Chairs, but when you stop the music you call out a body part. Everyone races to touch that body part to a chair, one person per chair only. Who doesn't get a chair or is last to touch the body part to the chair is out. You can start in a simple way: nose, hair, left elbow, etc. and greadually get more complex: bare feet, one foot while both hands touch the floor, standing on the chair on one foot, head and foot, and so on.

Musical Chairs with Balloons

Materials: chairs, balloons, music, shaving cream.

This game is played like Classic Musical Chairs except that players must sit on the balloon on each chair. To add fun: when it's down to the last two people you put a balloon half-filled with shaving cream on the chair, without the players knowing it. The winner gets a surprise!

Bird on the Perch

Materials: music

Divide the group in pairs. Have each pair decide who is the “bird” and who is the “perch”. Then form two circles, one inside the other (the birds on the outside and the perches on the inside). Start the music and have one circle turn clockwise and the other counter-clockwise so that they are going in opposite directions. When you stop the music, the perches kneel with one knee on the floor and the birds must find their perches and sit on their leg. In every round the last couple to pair up is out. Last remaining pair wins.

Body Change

Materials: chairs, one for each player, less one

Line up two rows of chairs facing inward or place them in a circle. Each chair should have the name of a species of life (it could be names of animals, plants, demigods, etc.). One person stands in the middle and is “Death”, the rest of the players are embodied beings. Death calls two or more species (Death can have a written list of the species) and then says, "Body change!" The people whose species are called run to get to a different seat. Death also tries to get a seat. Whoever is left standing becomes the next Death. People do sit on pretty hard on the chairs, so try to use sturdy ones. Death can start by calling two species and then make it more difficult (three, four, five species at a time, or  “any species with wings”, etc.). After switching chairs people have to remember what their new species is (that is what species is written on their chair). Once in a while Death can yell, «Change of body for everyone!» and everyone must get up and try to sit in a different chair.

Balloon Game

Materials: 4 balloons

Form two teams of equal numbers. Set them in two lines facing each other approximately two meters apart. Give two balloons to each team. The object is to throw the balloons over the heads of the other team—a goal. The team that scores most goals wins. One person will be referee and scorekeeper. The referee’s decision is final.

Dodge the Sponge

Materials: sponges, buckets filled with water, various obstacles

Begin by marking out a starting and a finishing line approximately 20 meters apart. Find five or six obstacles that are large enough to hide behind (for example tables or wheelbarrows) and place them about three meters apart in a zigzag pattern between the start and the finish. Pick two people to be the “bombers”, set one bomber halfway and one near the finishing line, and give each of them a bucket full of water and about 10 small sponges. (You could cut big car sponges into three or four pieces and use those. You could use water balloons but they are more expensive and hurt more.) The object of the game is for the rest of the players to get from the start to the finish without getting hit by a wet sponge. The job of the bombers is to try to hit the runners, but the “halfway bomber” is only allowed to hit until the runner has passed him. The players will go from obstacle to obstacle and take cover. When a player is hit he has to start all over again. The winner is whoever crosses the finishing line most times in the given time (say, 5 minutes). At the end everyone is wet.

Variation: form two teams. Same rules as before but each team tries to cross separately, while the bombers are members from the other team. Each player that crosses the finishing line without being hit scores a point. The team that scores more points wins.

Killing Snakes

Materials: a ball

Sri Prahlada Maharaja says in Srimad-Bhagavatam 7.9.15: “Even saintly persons take pleasure in the killing of a scorpion or a snake.”  In this game players take pleasure in “killing snakes”. Divide the whole group into two or more teams. Form a circle in the floor (ideally by drawing a line so that the boundary is clear). The first team goes into the center of the circle and forms a line (the snake) by attaching their hands to the waist of the person in front of them. The rest of the group position themselves around the circle, remaining behind the line. They will throw the ball trying to hit the last person forming the snake, but only below the waist, on the legs (so that he can jump and try to avoid being hit). Once hit, the person is out. The players around the circle continue to try to hit the new person at the end of the snake until the last person left (the head of the snake) is also hit and the snake is killed. A new team then goes into the middle. The snake (team) that lasts longer wins.

Newspaper Hockey

Materials: newspapers, little ball, and large room

Fold or roll the newspapers and use them as hockey sticks (put some sticky tape around to make them more solid). As puck you will use a ping pong ball, or a golf ball or similar ball. Set up the two goals (two identical tables or some other creative goals) Divide the group into two teams and have them play hockey. Only the goalies can touch the puck with anything other than the newspaper-hockey stick. The team who scores most goals wins.

Four Squares

Materials: various balls, an empty room

Divide your group up into four teams and divide the room into four areas (there should be no or almost no furniture). Throw them the balls (10-15 or more, they could be tennis balls, basketballs, ping pong balls, or any other type—they don't need to be all of the same type or size) and tell them to hit or throw the balls in the squares of the other teams. Play for 2 or 3 minutes (upbeat music helps in creating the mood) and when you blow the final whistle (or stop the music, or play the gong, or whatever other ending signal you use) the team with the least amount of balls in their area wins. Balls hit after the end signal go back to the team that hit them in extra-time.

Variation: a little less energetic version. Tell all teams to sit in their assigned area. They should try to cover as much space as possible. They can hit the balls with only their hands and head. They must remain seated during the game and not get up (that’s why they must try to cover as much ground as possible).

Snatching the Tail

Materials: a piece of cloth (scarf, handkerchief, or something)

Divide the group in two teams and have each team form a chain: each team-member holds the waist of the person in front with both hands. Put a piece of cloth or a handkerchief in the back pocket (or sticking somehow out of the waist) of the last person of each team. That’s the “tail” of the team. The front person of each team should try to get the “tail” of the other team. The first team who snatches the other’s tail, wins. You can play several rounds, with the teams having to score, say, three points for winning, or playing with a time limit.

Vimana Battle

Materials: scrap paper or newspapers

Make lots of paper airplanes (vimana is the Sanskrit name for flying machine). Make two teams and divide the room in half. The taller the divider the better; a couch works, but a rolling chalkboard would be better. Put a team on each side. Put half of the paper vimanas on each side. Explain that each person can throw only one plane at a time (this is the most important rule) and everyone must stop when you say "stop" (or you stop the music or blow a whistle or whatever ending signal you use). At the “go” players throw the vimanas over the divider as fast as they can. Vimanas start flying in both directions. Let them go for about 3 minutes. Give them a ten second warning before the end. Count how many vimanas are on each side of the divider. The team with the least number on its side wins.
Variation: Use a big bag of socks instead of the paper vimanas.

Collective Ski Race

Materials: wood and rope

Prepare four “skis” (60cm X 120cm or larger) with ropes at each end (drill one hole at both ends of each ski, pass the rope through, and knot it). Have each team stand on a set of skis (put on as many people on as possible) and have them race (30 meters or more). A good problem-solving exercise: they have to yell "Left, right, left, right." as they go, but don’t tell them. The team that crosses the finishing line first wins.

Mummy Race

Materials:  bed sheets or dhotis (of same length, one for each team)

You can play this relay race with two or more teams. Establish the starting and the finishing line. The first person in each team wraps up in the bed sheet by laying down and rolling up into the sheet (must have arms inside of sheet), then stands up (can get help from team members to stand up) and runs—or rather hops—towards the finishing line. Instead of a finishing line you could have a pole and have mummies go around it before coming back (the “advantage” of having to go around a pole is that the hopping mummies could bump into each other). The player arrives back and unrolls. Another team member rolls up in the sheet (or dhoti) and rushes to the other side. First team to complete the race wins.
Variation: have each team divide in two parts, each part will stand on one side of the racetrack and as soon as the mummy crosses the finishing line, one partner wraps up.


Materials: flashlight, batteries.

This is a special game to play on a dark night in a house with all lights turned off. Take the different pieces of a flashlight and hide them on surfaces throughout the house (not inside drawers or cupboards). One person is chosen to be the “raksasa”. The players the raksasa touches, “die”. The raksasa wins if all the other players are “dead” simultaneously. The others win if they can find all the pieces of the flashlight, assemble it, and shine the light in the eyes of the raksasa. The raksasa is not allowed to touch any of the pieces of the flashlight. When the raksasa touches someone, the touched player screams very loud and dies (lies down on the floor). The scream lets everyone else know where the raksasa and the dead are. You can have the rule that if another player touches the dead person, the dead comes back to life.

Water Balloon Volleyball

Materials: water balloons, 2 bed sheets (or blankets), volleyball net (or something similar)

This game gets teams to work closely together. Fill a few balloons with water. Form two teams and give a sheet each. Tell to spread it out. Everyone in the team should participate in holding it. The object of the game is to volley the water balloons back and forth, from one team to the other using the sheet to catch and launch the balloon to the other side of the net. If the balloon falls on the floor (within boundaries), the team that launched it gets a point.

Living Net

Materials: a volleyball (or similar ball)

Play this game with the same rules as volleyball, but with three 3 teams. Two teams play against one another while the third acts as the net. The "net" can take one step in any direction (only one step) to grab or hit the ball. The "net" can change direction of play at any time. You can have each of the three teams be the net once, and at the end calculate which team made most points (while playing as a normal team).

Assist Lord Caitanya to Capture Them All!

Materials: nothing

This energizer needs a large room or a wide, open space. You can introduce this game with this quotation from Sri Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi Lila 7.31-32 Translation:Seeing that the Mayavadis and others were fleeing, Lord Caitanya thought: I wanted everyone to be immersed in this inundation of love of Godhead, but some of them have escaped. Therefore I shall devise a trick to drown them also.From the purport: Here is an important point. Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu wanted to invent a way to capture the Mayavadis and others who did not take interest in the Krishna consciousness movement . . . it is He who proposed to invent a way to capture those who strayed from Krishna consciousness.”

One volunteer will represent Lord Caitanya trying to catch all the conditioned souls who are trying to stay away from Krishna consciousness. When he/she tags someone (simply touching the person), they lock arms and jointly attempt to tag someone else. Whoever is tagged locks arms with them and they continue to try to catch the remaining players. The game is over when the last person is captured. In the open you should set boundaries to keep people from roaming too far.


Material: a volleyball (or similar ball), a body of water (river, lake, sea or swimming pool) and strips of clothes (long enough to be tied around the head)

Form two teams (you can give colorful names to the teams). Have each team tie a different color around their head (or just one ties the cloth and the other stays without) keeping it visible on the forehead. The idea is to pass the ball among team members, each time calling a name of Lord, trying to complete the Panca Tattva and Hare Krishna maha-mantra, while the other team tries to intercept and capture the ball. When a team captures the ball they have to begin the mantras anew. The team that can "chant" the whole two mantras scores a point. When a group makes a mistake in the sequence of the names of the mantras, the possession of the ball passes to the other team.