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Name of Activity:

Race for Space

Purpose of Activity:

The purpose of this activity is to focus on the teamwork of each pair through the integration of key concepts such as: getting into open space, anticipating, communication, developing strategies, etc. This game can be modified in many ways to accomodate almost any field/court sport that involves passing on the ground.


Very little previous experience with the sport of skill is needed for this activity because I have found it to be an effective way to work on concepts that apply to multiple sports.

Suggested Grade Level:


Materials Needed:

20-24 sticks, 20 tennis/foam balls, 4-6 pillow polo sticks (optional), 4-6 colored pinneys and 20 cones

Description of Idea

The activity can run for upwards of 30-40 minutes.

Prior to class:

Set up goals around the gym floor. Goals can be small heavy cones (so that they don’t move) paired up about 3 feet apart. These cones should be evenly distributed throughout the gym.

The activity will be played in one minute rounds. Each successive round will build upon the previous one. To start the game each student will pair off with a classmate. Each student will get a stick and each pair will take one ball. To start the game each pair should find an area of the gym that is open.

Partner Scoring

-each round should last 60 seconds
-to score a point the partners must pass the ball between the "goals" from one partner to the other to earn a point
-after scoring you must go to a different goal before returning
-a few rounds should be done to reinforce the rules (use teachable moments between rounds)

Round 1

Add two defenders each wearing a pinney and a pillow polo stick. These defenders attempt to stop the pairs from scoring. These defenders should be split so that one defender watches half of your field and the other defender is on the opposite side.

Round 2

Now your two defenders can roam freely from side to side of the gym.

Round 3

Add two additional defenders (for a total of 4) each wearing a pinney and a pillow polo stick. These defenders attempt to stop the pairs from scoring. These defenders should be able to roam freely within the playing space.

Round 4

Each student should have their own stick and ball. There should be roughly 4-6 defenders. As before (1 minute rounds), the students should see how many goals they can score by dribbling their ball through the cones.


1. Students who have difficulty tracking moving objects or manipulating the stick can be given a larger ball that will roll slower and be easier to control.

2. Additional rounds of practice can be added before defenders are introduced.

3. Goals can be increased in size.

4. By facilitating discussion within the class, we can help our students come up with effective strategies for success. For example: being between the ball and the defender, using goals that are away from the center of the gym, etc.

Assessment Ideas:

In between each round should be a quick discussion to assess the students level of understanding and success.


-What strategies were used? Where they successful and how do you know they were successful?
-When a defender was present how did your strategy change? Personally as well as as a pair.
-Raise your hand if you scored more points this time using your new strategy.
-What didn’t work for your group?
-How did you keep the defense away from your ball?
- Were you able to score more passing with a partner or by yourself?

Submitted by Jesse Merchant who teaches at Farragut Middle School in Hastings on HUdson, NY. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 7/24/2010.
Viewed 139679 times since 5/15/2010.

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Race for Space

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Let others know how this idea went when you implemented/tried it with your kids. Include any variations, suggested teaching tips, positive comments, etc. so others can benefit from your tips. Please be helpful and positive with all comments. Look below to see all posted comments.



Previous Comments:

So Chhim

Can they travel with the ball? Where do partners throw from?


If the polo sticks are optional it sounds like soccer and if I add the polo sticks its pillo polo soccer. Not clear on what 20 to 24 sticks means.Should I use noodles or modify with other implement?


thank you but my kids said that this was too easy for them

Jesse Merchant

The "stick" can be almost anything. I have used this activity with Field Hockey, Floor Hockey, and even Lacrosse. It also works for sports like Soccer.


What kind of stick?

Izabella Bobrowska

I love this idea, thank you.

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