Parkour training for kids
I’ve been teaching kids parkour for the last two years. Here is a top ten list of games that I have used in parkour classes for kids ages 5-12. I believe that parkour should be fun, and kids love to play. Because most of these games are geared towards non-stop motion, they can be quite strenuous and make great warm ups or end of training conditioning for traceurs and traceusses of all ages.
The goal is to keep players engaged and active. In order to minimize sitting out waiting for the next round, it is good to play games that don’t have winners and losers. It is also very important to talk with children about safety before playing these games – some kids are willing to risk life and limb to avoid getting tagged! Ultimately you will see sweaty, smiling kids who will be creatively using their environment and body to have a blast. If there are obstacles in the area, players are sure to use them to their advantage, whether running around, over, or under – so the more objects for them to use in the environment, the better. If you don’t have any obstacles, buy some sidewalk chalk and make imaginary ones.
Use these ideas as a starting point. Be creative. Change the names. Change the rules. Be inspired by t.v. shows, movies, and random things you notice. I once read an article about chimpanzees and bonobos, so that evening, I made a game with teams of primates competing for bananas.
10. Lose a Limb
This one is a bit of a free for all and makes for a good warm up. Circle up in a big empty area with 5-10 people. If someone touches your leg you must hop on one leg. If they get the remaining leg then go do five burpees to come back in. This can also be played QM style on hands and feet (extra limb to lose).
9. Monkey Tag
This is basically tag, but everyone is on hands and feet. It can be combined with lava tag, freeze tag, or any other version of tag. Keep in mind that this game can be pretty tiring and strenuous for kids if played more than 5 minutes.
8. Add On
Set up some obstacles. Someone starts with one or two moves. Everyone goes through and copies the same movement. The next person in line completes that first move and adds on another move. Getting kids to pay attention while waiting and not getting confused can be an issue depending on the group/age. Keeping it to 4-6 moves is advised for those with short attention spans.
7. Chase the ball
I use a Wawooba ball, but any bouncy ball works great. Throw the ball. Everyone chases it. Whoever gets it, gets to throw the ball. Repeat. The enjoyment goes up greatly if there are multiple areas for the ball to ricochet off of to increase the element of surprise and agility.
6. Quiet Ninja
Set up some precision trainers in an area that is within arm’s reach around a sitting individual. Call on two students to go around a circle in opposite directions while staying on the trainers. The person in the middle must be blindfolded. If you make noise, the blindfolded person reaches out and touches you with a penalty of 5 burpees. The goal is to walk ninja style around the trainers without being touched.
5. Tunnel Tag
This is a game of freeze tag that allows for maximum workout. If tagged, you must hold plank or downward dog until someone crawls under you so you can be unfrozen.
4. Parkour Musical Chairs
Set up obstacles in a circle. They could also be skill stations (jumps, cartwheels, rolls). Put precision trainers in the middle. Play music, watch the kids move, and watch them rush to the trainers when you press pause. It is nice to have only one person “out” per round and then they can decide when to stop the music, although some kids purposely lose so they can control the music.
3. Timed Obstacle Course
There is wait time for this, but when doing 30 seconds of linked parkour movements, it is okay to catch your breath for a minute or so afterwards. Set up a course of obstacles and/or skills. Allow a practice run, and then time each player. To keep in the spirit of parkour, I don’t announce a winner for the fastest runner. Instead I have them complete the course a third or fourth time in order to attempt to beat their own time. This motivates them to try their best. I often attempt to make courses that mimic American Ninja Warrior for this activity. Another variation of this game is to set up “x’s” of blue tape around an area and time how long it takes for players to touch each one.
2. Zombie Tag
Start with one person on the ground. They then rise from the dead and must say “brains!” continuously. If they tag a player, that person lies down and rises from the dead to say “brains!” It goes until the zombie horde swarms on the last survivor. The survivor is then chosen to be the first undead in the next round. Aliens and astronauts is a variation of zombie tag that is also a hit.
1. Lava Tag
This is the tried and true staple of parkour training in general. Set up a course, make clear what is lava and play tag! I’ve found that having one person “it” at a time works best, and they can count to five if tagged. Variations include giving the person who is it “lava boots” (especially if they are having a hard time tagging friends). This can also be a crocodile vs. frogs on lily pads type of tag.