Mike Spiller L.T.D.F (License to Deliver Fun)

Gymnastics Games

5 Stick Tricks Posted 2-18-2010

For this neat activity you will need a marker pen and a couple of dozen tongue depressors.  Write gymnastics floor skills on both sides of the stick.  One stick might have “front roll” on one side and cartwheel on the other.  Each stick should have 2 different skills.  Put all the sticks in a bag and let each gymnast reach in the bag and take out 5 sticks.  They toss the sticks in the air and allow them to land on the FX mat.  The player will take the tricks that landed up on the sticks and make a single pass routine.  This could be judged or it can just be for fun.  Remember to have a bag of sticks for each level of students.  Start with very simple skills for the beginner and add difficulty as the student’s progress.  One thing I know about class students is that they love to make up routines.  This is a fun way to do just that.

An Olympic Minute / Large Group / Cooperative / Posted 8-28-2010

For this great team challenge you will need a large group of people.  Have all the players get into groups of three and ask them to number-off 1, 2, and 3.  Each player now has a number.  Ask all the #1s to make a circle facing out and finger-tip to finger-tip.  All the 2’s and 3’s will make a giant circle around the 1’s facing them.  Players do not have to be face to face with another player at this point.  You now have an inner ring and an outer ring of players.  Ask the group to extend their arms out so they can touch fingers with players across from them.  This gives you the correct distance for this giant beach ball challenge.  Place the giant beach ball between an inner and outer player.  This pair will be the “counter” pair.  Each time the ball passes them they will yell out the number of times it passes them.  The team has one minute to see how many times they can get the ball around the circle using hands only to move the ball.  No kicking the ball is allowed.  If the ball is hit out of the circle, the group must start over again.  Record the number of times the ball made it around the group (world) and allow other groups to challenge it at another time.  If your group is very large, have 2 groups going at the same time and see which team can move the ball around the circle 10 times the quickest.  If you play this way, always play a two out of three challenge.  Winning group chant’s USA over and over while the less fortunate team does 25 Jumping jacks in unison.

Are You Ready Coach? / Tag Game / Posted 8-28-2010

Have all the gymnasts’ line-up on one side of the gym floor.  Have one player on the opposite side of these players.  This single player represents the Coach.  This is a tag / reaction game and it is very popular with all age groups.   All the players take a step forward and say in unison, “Are you ready coach?”  The coach will respond with something like, “I’mmmmm sanding the bars!”  The coach acts like he/she is sanding the bars.  The approaching players take another step forward and say the same thing as before, “Are you ready coach?”  The couch continues to say things like, “I’mmmmm moving the spring board.”  Again, the coach bends over to move the board.  The players are getting closer each time.  When the coach is ready, he/she may respond with a shout, I’mmmmm READY!”  At this time, all the players turn and run past their safety line.  If the coach can catch a player, they come back with the coach and become assistant coaches.  The caught players will act out just like the coach does.  When the coach says, “I’mmmmm READY” again, they all try to tag another player.  Play until there are only two or three players left and declare them the winners.  Choose another coach (one of the winners) and play again.  Note: the safety line should be about 12 feet out from the starting point. 

Beam Inversion Challenge Posted 2-18-2010

Have 4 to 10 gymnasts stand on a low beam facing the coach.  The coach will give them the first challenge.  She might say, “Without falling off the beam, line-up by your first initial. “A” being on my left and “Z” being on my right – Go!”  The group on the low beam will then try to move themselves into the right order without falling off the beam.  This not easy, but it will make the gymnast really think about supporting and helping each other to accomplish the goal.  There are many ways to have the gymnasts line-up.  You might ask them to line-up tallest to shortest or by their birthdays.  The toughest one, most of the time, is for the group to invert their order on the low beam.

Block Up!  Posted 3-2-2010

This is a group challenge for all ages.  For this activity you will be using the blocks of foam in the pit.  The objective is for your team to build a tower of blocks higher than the opposing team without it falling over.  If your tower falls, the other team wins.  Each team starts with one block on the free-ex mat some distance away from the other team.  Flip a coin to see which team will start first.  If you win the flip of the coin, one of your players will take the coin and hide it in one of his/her hands.  This player will hold his/her hands out in front of them.  The other team has to guess which hand has the coin.  If they guess correctly, they only have to put one block on top of the starting block.  If the guess is incorrect, they have to put two blocks on top of the starting block.  The coin now goes to the other team.  Each time the coin is hidden, the other team will put one or two blocks on top of the others.  If a team’s tower falls during the stacking, the other team wins.  Players may hold the stack anyway they wish, but must let go for the tower to stand on its own.  During this game, no other equipment can be used to stand on nor can players stack up on each other.  Once the blocks are out of reach, how can your team get another one on top?  It can be done!

Bull’s Eye All Around Posted 3-2-2010

Draw a target in the middle of the free-ex mat.  The center circle should be about 2 feet in diameter.  The center of the target is valued at 10 points or a “Perfect 10.”  The next circle out should be valued at 9, the next at 8 and the last one at 7.  If a player’s ball rolls out of the scoring rings, it will be scored as a 5.  Give each player a Bocce ball, tennis ball, basketball, or anything that rolls for this game of accuracy.  Each player has a score card or their name is on a poster with the coach documenting the scores of each player.  I usually give the gymnasts 5 rolls each.  The total will be their all around score.  Each player will stand behind the white line of the free-ex mat to roll their ball.  Variation 1:  Have all the players roll at the same time – 1, 2, 3, Go!  Each player will record their score on their card or tell the coach what they scored.  Variation 2:  Let the players roll one at a time.  In this variation, a player can bump another player’s ball to another score (might be higher or lower.)  This is a good math game for younger players and it is a great way to creatively fill your day with novel fun.

Fitness Playing Card Tag / Large Group Tag Game / Posted 8-28-2010

Designate an “it” and give that person a deck of playing cards.  When they tag someone they give the tagged person a 
card. The person tagged is to perform an exercise designated by the card.  If a RED card is received, they need to do Jumping Jack.  If they received a RED 8 – they do 8 JJs.  If they received a RED Queen – they do 12 JJs.  Ace = 1 and King = 13.  If they receive a BLACK card, they will need to do Chargers the number designated on the card.  If a player receives the JOKER, he/she will do NO exercise, but is now the new chaser.  Once a child finishes the task, they may place their cards in a specific area and enter the game again.  Chasers can get the new stacks when they run out of cards and continue to tag others.  Variation:  Have the 4 suits represent different exercises – Hearts = Ski Jumps, Clubs = Push-ups, etc.

 French Circle Warm-up Posted 2-9-2010

While working in France many years ago, I was in Paris at a gym with Michael Allinic and his wife and they showed me this neat idea for a fun and beneficial warm-up.  Have your group stand in a circle and hold hands.  The first thing the group did was to snail in and out and back to a full circle.  This is achieved by the leader dropping his/her left hand and leading the group in a giant spiral to his/her left.  All gymnasts will follow the leader until he/she brings the gymnasts into a full circle again.  Again, all gymnasts will hold hands. You will need a leader that will speak up and execute the drills well.  The idea is to help each other with balance and support. While facing in, have all the gymnasts squat down and back up again.    Here is a list of skills that I saw the circle do.  After the snail and the squat they will pike, squat – walk in and then out again, lunge kicks, Indian sit, lean over crossed legs, tuck, pike, Circle wave, V-sit, Crossed ankles V-sit, side-leans, candle stands, roll up to feet, and jump high with a shout.  Next the group will release hands, turn left and face the back of the next gymnasts.  Execute a high kick right, high kick left, squat down, jump up, walk in a circle, move in closer to the center, lap sit game (sit on each others knees without the group falling), turn outward and roll forward to a finishing pose.   There is no end to the way the group can move while connected.  Let the gymnast suggest ways or let them create their own circle warm-up to music.

Get It If You Can!  / Tag / Posted 8-28-2010

Equipment:  1 bean bag per player and 2 stackable cans
Play this in a large open area.  Select a player to be "It."  A throw line is drawn 15 to 20 feet from the IT and the cans.  Two cans are placed on top of the other.  The "It" stands by the cans.  Each player has a bean bag and is given a chance to topple the stacked cans.  If the bag misses, the player must leave his bag where it stops.  If the bag knocks the cans down, the player must run, get his bag, and get back across the throwing line before the "It" can stack the cans and touch the player.  When the cans are upset, all players that have bean bags on the floor must get their bags and make it back across the throw line.  If a player is tagged, he becomes the new "It."
Variation:  A player may choose to stand on his bean bag (safe) instead of trying to get back over the throwing line.  He can’t go back over the line until someone else knocks the cans down.  I have played this in a big circle before and it works just as well.

Gym Challenges / Large Group Warm-up Activity / Use for Contest / Posted 8-28-2010

Gather your group together for some fun with these challenges.  It’s also a great way to warm-up a group in a different way.


Can you lie on your back, fold arms on chest, and then stand with arms still folded?

Can you jump up to the side and click your heels?

Can you jump up in the air and see how many times you can click your heels together?

Can you stand on one foot and count to 20 with your eyes closed.

Can you stand on one tip-toe and count to 10 with your eyes closed?

Can you lace your fingers together and step through with both feet?  Brings your arms overhead and back to the front of your body without unlacing your fingers.

Can you put one or two ankles behind your head while sitting?

Can you do a butterfly roll to the right and to the left?

Can you close your eyes and touch your fingers together overhead?

Can you kneel on both knees and return to a standing position with arms folded behind your back?  Try not to move your feet or lose your balance.

Can you perform a Coffee Grinder?  One hand on the floor and walk in a circle with the other hand raised up.  Use right and left hands.

Can you do a Hawk Dive on one leg?  How low can you dip your head toward the floor?

Can you hold one leg out in front of you and squat all the way down then return to stand without use of hands?

Can you do a Knee Dip?  Hold one foot behind the body and then touch knee to the floor and back to stand without touching foot or hands to the floor.

Can you spin 8 times and walk down a predetermined line on the floor without stepping off the line?

Can you make your tummy roll up and down?

Can you lace your fingers and then dislocate your arms while moving from front to back?

Can you make your nose pop?

Did you know I had 11 fingers?

Can you squat jump your body length?

Can you do a Handstand for 3 seconds?

Can you touch your nose with your tongue?

Can you touch your head with your feet while on your tummy?

Can you do a push up and clap while in the air?

Can you do a headstand and clap 1, 2, or 3 times and put your hands back on the floor before you lose your balance?

Can you Flea Jump 3 times without stopping?

Can you do 5 Russian Bear steps without falling?

Can you and a partner sit back to back and do simultaneous Butterfly Rolls at the same time? You should finish back to back when finished.

Gym-Stone  or Rock & Roll Game Posted 2-9-2010

This is a very simple game with great results.  This is a game of chance with a bit of basic tumbling involved.  The coach stands on one side of the free-ex mat with a coin in his/her hand.  The coach will put the coin behind his/her back and places it in either the right or left hand.  After doing this, the coach will bring his/her hands/ fist to the front and put them on top of each other.  The gymnasts on the other side of the mat try to guess if the coin is in the top fist or bottom fist.  If they think the coin is in the top fist, they will stretch up on their toes with hands held high.  If they think it is in the bottom fist they will get in a push-up position.  The coach will open his/her hands and say either top or bottom.  If the gymnast guessed correctly, he/she get to take one long roll (or long cartwheel) towards the other side of the free-ex mat.  The object is to roll across and back to the original starting point before anyone else can.  Only roll or cartwheel when you have guessed correctly.  The winner of the match will be the player / leader to hide the coin for the next round.

Horse Around Posted 2-9-2010

This is a very tough conditioning game that I have seen at many Gym Camps.  This drill can be done with pommels on or off the horse.  It is a timed event or just a personal challenge.  Have a gymnast sit straddled the horse to start the activity.  On the signal to begin, the gymnast tries to go under and back up to the top of the horse as fast as possible.  Once again, this could be used as a challenge or as part of a conditioning program. 

Strength Stretch Posted 2-18-2010

This is an activity that will challenge the individual do go the extra mile for victory.  Each player should find another player their own height for this challenge.  Have one player stand behind the white line of the free-ex mat and give him/her a piece of chalk or a penny.  This player will lean-over and put one hand on the floor over the white line.  He/she will then hop on that one arm as far out as possible (feet still behind the line) and mark a line or deposit the penny as far away from the line as possible.  The next player will try to better this mark with his/her own chalk or penny.  Allow the first player to take another turn and try to better the first attempt or pass the 2nd players mark.  The second player will take his/her final try to move the penny or the mark further.  The player that can make a mark the furthest gets the point or the victory for their team.

Stuffed Mushroom Posted 3-2-2010

For this group challenge, you will need to use a small gym mushroom and place it in the middle of the floor – away from any other gym equipment.  The objective of the activity is to see how many gymnasts can stand on the mushroom at the same time and not fall off.  They will have to make a plan and the try to execute it.  Players are encouraged to support each other and to always think safety.  The rule is that a team’s effort is a good one if they can stay on the mushroom for 5 seconds without falling off.  This is a great challenge for all age groups, but make sure you have several spotters around the mushroom in case the group starts to lean and perhaps fall.  Currently, the record is 6 for ages 6 to 9 year olds.  Set your own age group records and remember, NO double-stacking or on shoulders.  Think Safety, but have fun!

USA – Attention Getter Posted 3-2-2010

When you need the group’s attention, you can call out, “Olympic Games” and all the participants will run in place while holding the torch high over head and chant, “USA, USA, USA!”  USA could stand for “Unusually Smart Athletes.”