Sharks and Barracudas

Sharks and Barracudas

Players: 8+ (I've played 4 on 4, but can imagine up to 10 on 10... or more!)
Space: A Medium Gymnasium (can be adapted to 1/2 a soccer field)
Supplies: 1 ball for every player (various sizes and types are a big plus)

Everyone loves "Capture the Flag." When I was really young, "Capture the Flag" meant running through the woods non-stop (sometimes late at night) with a basically unachievable goal. Sounds dangerous? Then it was revised as I got older to playing on a field - which worked much better as a game. Gyms have normally presented a challenge when adapting "Capture the Flag" mostly because of the size. This game combines two successful games ("Capture the Flag" and "Sharks and Minnows") in order to make a very entertaining and challenging gym experience for those of any age.

Game Play and Setup

The group needs to split into two *basically even* teams. The space is split in half and each team claims their side (the "Shark" side and the "Barracuda" side). At the back of each side, there is a safety zone from the foul line to the wall. Place one (1) ball in this safety zone for each player on the opposite team (for instance, if there are nine (9) Barracudas, then there should be nine (9) balls in the safety area behind the Sharks).

The goal of the game is to either: (1) Have all of the balls in the game on a single side; or (2) Capture all of the opposing players.

The rules are fairly simple. The center line represents the "tag" line. If a Barracuda steps onto the Shark side, then they can be tagged and consequently go to jail. Conversely, the same happens if a Shark crosses over to the Barracuda's side. If a player is tagged without a ball, they must go to the safety zone behind their opponent (the jail) - Sharks end up behind Barracudas and vice versa. If a player is tagged while holding a ball, they must return the ball and return to their side before resuming play.

If a player is in the jail, they must stay in the safety zone until one of their teammates who is *not* in jail successfully swipes a ball.

Players who are trying to take balls may only take them from the opposing side's safety zone. Players in the safety zone CANNOT be tagged! Players can only hold one ball at a time and may not pass / kick / throw the ball at any time. If a ball is dropped, that ball must be returned to the safety area from which it was taken.

Once a ball successfully crosses the halfway line, the player must bring it into their safety zone!

The basic idea is that some of the players will try to steal the balls while others play defense. The jobs will change significantly as some are captured or as the loot dwindles.


I love introducing new games to a group of kids - especially amid yells of "Wall ball" and "Dodgeball" or other such standard games that are probably played too often by lazy instructors. When I first taught this game to a group of middle schoolers, their reaction was an expected hesitation. They left saying that it was the greatest game ever. Of course, I'll probably never play it again with them - I am fairly strict about my no-repeat attitude with groups I scarcely see - but the effectiveness with all players of varied skill levels was wonderful. In addition, the processing that the team work and strategies provide is excellent for educational facilitating.

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