Games for JNs

In “Cross-Country Skiing: Building Skills for Fun and Fitness” (The Mountaineers Books, $19.95 paperback) Steve Hindman recommends the following games:
  • Have kids race to a certain spot. When you blow the whistle, they must stop by a count of three. If they don’t stop in time they must move back ten ski lengths.
  • Tie lots of balloons to a long string attached to your waist and weave over the snow while the kids chase you and try to break the balloons by stomping on them with their skis.
  • Have the kids take one ski off and race using the remaining ski, as if they are riding a scooter.
  • Do the Cha-cha, 1-2, 1-2-3. Glide on the three. Do it as a group. Do it up hill, do it downhill, do it all around. Get rhythm.
  • Ski like a cat. Curl the claws on all four paws (poles and skis) to grip the snow and spring forward.
  • On the flats, have kids put their skis in the A (wedge or "pizza slice") position and use their poles to push themselves around. Have them go right, then left, then straight. Do the same in a train of kids (skis of the child in back placed inside the wedge formed by the skis of the child in front). Make train sounds. Expect a crash.
  • With their skis in the V (herringbone) position and edges turned, tell kids to walk and quack like a duck. Start on the flats, then waddle up a gentle hill.
  • Downhill drill: Start out with the knees on skis, hands on tips for the first run. Do the next run up right with hands on knees. On the final run have kids try to bite their pole handles as they slide downhill.
  • Red light, green light. Same as the game on foot. Leader holds poles baskets up for go, poles crossed means stop.
  • Limbo! Place two ski poles upright in the snow. Suspend a third pole, held in place by the straps of the first two, between them. Be sure to attach the horizontal pole on the back or downhill side of the upright poles. Have kids ski through the arch clearing it by crouching forward or doing the limbo.

From Bill Koch Ski League:

Below is a list of games use by the New England Bill Koch Ski League as tools for teaching skills on cross country skis. Some of the games may have specific skills in mind, while others promoted comfort on skis, a major component to the enjoyment of the sport. Make sure that the area in which you choose to play a game is safe for that particular game. For example, most tag type games should be played on relatively flat surfaces, young skiers can build up quite a bit of speed. Also in tag games, lunging to tag other players needs to be outlawed. The purpose of these games is to develop quick reaction time and turning skills, lunging defeats this purpose. We encourage parents to be included in all of these games. Children love the interaction with their parents and the parents of other skiers, making this a whole family experience. We invite you to send any games along that you use with your ski groups.


  • Simon Says. Place slalom poles or cones in-line, about 5 yards apart and run for about 50 yards. Simon stands at the end of the run and directs skiers by a wave of his pole (left or right)slaloming through the poles. Skiers start off about one every five seconds or so. All skiers must react to Simon's directions and once finished the course, head back to the start (outside of the poles). Make two runs side by sides approximately twenty feet apart. This activity can be done on the flat, down, or up. It can be skied with or with-out poles, run, tun with poles, done on roller skis/blades/skates.
  • Molecule Game. Form groups of 3,4 or 5 skiers and have them interlock arms, always facing in the forward direction (molecule must maintain horizontal pattern during the games).Set up slalom poles and do in relay format with two or three parallel sets of poles. This game can be done dryland-running or on skis without poles! An interesting way of introducing the side step!!! This game can also be played on the open field starting with groups of two. Anyone tagged by a player must interlock. Only end players may tag as the molecule grows. How can you modify or add a different twist to this game?
  • Figure 8. Start two skiers at a time at the beginning of in-line slalom run and have skier 1 go left and skier 2 go right! Do on snow, run, with or without poles.
  • Crazy 8s. Same as figure eight but on-snow with skier kneeling on skis and steering by grabbing tips of skis. Done on a downhill. Keep boots in bindings. Kids love it!
  • Human Slalom. Have skiers be in-line slalom poles. Start at one end of the line and have a skier peel off and run, ski, bound etc. through the human poles. Emphasize any skills you wish. Great way to move your group form one point to another.
  • Human Obstacle Course. Open field, send half of the group out on the field to make shapes and explain to the second half of the group that they should run (any locomotive movement) over, under, around, using jumping, crawling or ski related skills. Switch groups after a few minutes. Usually done as a warm-up.
  • Spider. Players spread out on a field in a random formation, each with a flag, hat, glove etc. (pieces of surveyors tape work great) tucked in back pocket or in the case of ski tights stuffed into their tights. On signal have players try and steal flags from each other. Once you lose your flag you must stand on it (flag) for the rest of the game. The person who takes the flag must throw it on the ground by the person he caught. Those caught can still steal flags of passersby but cannot lift foot from flag. Play until last player is caught. Play again ..... and again! Great warm-up. Twist - keep reducing the size of the playing field.! Play on snow or dryland.
  • Ghostbusters. Spread the group out in random formation. The person who is it will be the ghostbuster; all others are ghosts. On signal, ghostbuster tries to catch ghosts by tagging. Those caught must straddle legs and put arms out to side (haunted house). Haunted houses are freed when someone crawls under their legs. Haunted houses must remain stationary when tagged. Use more than one ghostbuster if the group is large. Group yells "1,2,3 Ghostbusters" to start game.
  • Hog Call. To be played on trails or in field. Divide into two groups. Groups A will be given part of a compound word or go-together (i.e. rocking -chair, shoe - lace, basket - ball etc.). Group B will be given the other part of the word. Groups go in opposite direction only to come upon one another in a certain time period. When groups cross they say only their word (this is the only spoken word allowed in the game). Objective: players must find their partner and get back to home base (prearranged spot). An example would be that the player from Group A who has the word "pop" can say "pop,pop,pop etc. A player from Group B has the word corn and upon hearing the word pop realizes that she has a match with that person. Have skiers put arms over shoulders, skip , double-pole sets, to back to the base. This is a great game for pole runs or skiing on a trail of 1 to 2 km.
  • Caterpillar Relay. Two, three or four teams each line up with skiers in file formation;. Each skier places skis outside the person in front of her, every fourth skier would start with skis together. Teams hobble, shuffle or do whatever it takes to get their caterpillar over the goal line.
  • Tracks and Trails.Place skiers in rows of four or five skiers. Make sure rows line up in north-south and east-west directions. Select two skiers: one to be the chaser and the other to be the chased. The leader will give a signal for "tracks" which means all rows face west with arms extended. While the chase in on, the leader changes to "trails" with all rows now facing south with arms extended. Runners or skiers who are it cannot cross rows, they must go up and down. (Traditional games called "Streets and Alleys").
  • Elephant Hunt. Place colored balloons on trees (low on trunk) and vary sizes. Best done along ski trail. Explain to kids that they are going on an elephant hunt. They must bring back the hide or ski for their prize. Use poles for breaking balloon (careful). This is a fun game for lollipopers (age 7 and under).
From Teaching Cross Country Skiing by Bridget A. Duoos and Anne M. Rykken. Published by Human Kinetics P.O. Box 5076 Champaign, IL 61825-5076
  • Around The World. Equipment: Cones to use for creating a 5-by-5-foot (152 by 152 cm) square home base; a tracked ski trail loop between 100 and 400 meters (109 and 437 yards). This is a chase game that is played with three or more skiers. No poles are used. The skiers gather at home base. One skier is It and stands several feet away from the group at home base. All the skiers at home base think of names of a state. Each skier whispers his selection to the others so that everyone but the skier who is It knows everyone else’s state. Once the states are selected, the skier who is It calls out states. When a skier’s state is called, the skier must leave home base and ski around the established ski loop (between 100 and 400 meters). The skier tries to make it back to home base before being tagged by the It. If many skiers are involved, you can assign several skiers to be It so that no one is standing around too long. The skiers assigned to be It should be changed frequently so the activity continues and everyone gets to ski the loop. The It and the skier must ski in the same direction. A lead zone—about three yards or meters extended from home base in the direction of the skiing route—may be used as an area for the skier to get ready to ski or to toy with the It. The It may tag the skier in this zone, but within this zone, the skier may quickly get back to home base (like a baseball player leading off a base). When skiers step outside the boundaries of the lead zone, they must commit to the chase. The It should be far enough away from home base that he would have to be very fast to tag someone in the lead zone; however, this can happen, especially if the skier falls trying to get back to home base. The skier can only go back to home base from the lead zone three times; on the fourth move into the lead zone, the skier must ski the entire loop. If a skier gets tagged, the skier becomes another It and helps the original It tag skiers. If the It doesn’t tag anyone, that person remains It, but they won’t have additional help from others they might have tagged.
  • Canadian Border. Equipment: Cones or markers to mark a field; a flag that can be stuck in the snow.  Divide skiers into teams of five and play with no poles. Flip a coin to determine which team plays defense. The defending team tries to block the offense from capturing their flag, while the offensive team tries to avoid being tagged by the defending team. When a skier is tagged by a member of the opposite team, the skier becomes a member of that team.

More to come.

Comments