None of these recommended games inherently involve bodily contact. We have included a bunch of relay games and those can be modified so instead of physically touching the next teammate, a “tag” is when the teammate passes a line drawn in the snow (or other marker). Since surface transmission seems to be the lowest concern, we’ve included some games at the bottom that involve some shared equipment, if your club is comfortable with that. For tagging games, a “tag” constitutes contact with a ball thrown by another player or a pool noodle held by another player. We recommend using soft balls that can be easily held and thrown by the skiers.
Games to Start Practice
Hit the Deck!
Practice falling and rolling onto the back to untangle skis. Place skis on snow parallel to each other. Then move forward onto knees to get up. Slide one ski forward and push up.
The Hokey Pokey
Stand the group in a circle (with 6 feet of space between each child/athlete) and sing/say: Put your left ski in, put your left ski out, you put your left ski in and you shake it all about. Then you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself about. That’s what it’s all about. Do whatever the lyrics tell you to do. Repeat with various body parts and pieces of equipment.
Same as the game of squares drawn on pavement with crayons! Use food coloring or spray paint, or simply draw the squares in the snow with a ski pole.
Red Light/Green Light
Have the skiers line up (with space between each other) and start skiing towards you. Then say, “Red Light!” Give skiers 5 seconds to stop and try to hold the position they were caught in. When you say “Green Light” they can begin moving again. First skier to reach a line drawn in the snow in front of you gets to be the next caller.
This game is popular with younger Kochers. Simon Says: step sideways; now hop up and down…
Group Skiing Games
Mystery Time Race (with or without poles)
This type of race is designed for anyone in the group to be able to win, regardless of ability. Pick an approximate window of time for the activity, say 10 to 15 minutes, and select one person to pick a time in your time window. Write down the time they choose and hide it. Start the group out skiing, telling them to be back between 10 and 15 minutes. Score the race by those that come back closest (absolute time) to the mystery time. Distance, speed, and style are of no concern.
Ski over bumps, climb over a bench, ski under a rope, around poles and bushes, sidestep up a ramp or hill. Turn the course into a relay.
What’s Around the Corner?
Set two or three stations along the trail. Skiers must stop and do something at each station: say the first half of the alphabet, count backwards from 25 to 0, spell their name and mailing address, switch poles to opposite hands, do some toe touches, sing one verse of a favorite song, etc. You can ask younger and older skiers to do different things at certain stations.
How Slow Can You Go
Players line up at one end of the game area (field, room, stadium, etc.) When the leader says go, everyone must move towards the opposite end of the game area as slow as they possibly can. Stopping is not allowed, everyone must remain in forward motion. The last one to cross to the other side wins. Can be done on skis!
Relay and Race Games:
With some of these games you can have skiers “race” against themselves to see if they can improve as an alternative to racing against each other.
This is a two person race where the team members start back-to-back at the start line. From this position, at the sound of the signal, they start around the race course loop in opposite directions. Each team member continues out on the race course in opposite directions until they meet their partner. At that point in time, they turn around and retrace their routes back to the start line. The team can not finish until both members can cross into the finish area together. Lowest time, or the first team pair back in the start/finish area together, wins. Pair fast people with slow people to make the race closer.
Beanbag Biathlon Relay
Racers ski a lap of a short course and stop at the ”firing range”, to throw snowballs into a box until they gets three “hits”, then skis on to “tag” their partner.
Circle Relay (with or without poles)
Students ski to a pole, circle it twice, and ski back to “tag” the next team member. Each team has its own turning pole.
Double-Pole Contest (with poles)
Set up two flags or poles 25 meters apart. Ask each skier to count the number of double poles they use between the flags. Then ask each skier to ski the route with fewer double poles. See who can do the least.
Double-Pole for Distance (with poles)
Make a starting line. Who can travel the farthest with ten double poles? Have each skier mark their place and try again for their personal best.
Double-Pole Long Jump (with poles)
Draw a “poling line” in the snow. Let each skier back up to get good momentum. The skier executes a double pole on the double poling line and glides to see who goes the farthest. A slight incline works great.
Interval Relay (with or without poles)
Two skiers alternate laps for 3 to 10 laps each. This relay provides excellent training and is a good event for the mid season for older skiers. Choose the technique you wish to work on as the format for the relay: double pole, skating, striding, hill-climbing, downhills, etc.
Medley Relay (with or without poles)
Have three or four short loops of different types: one short and flat, one hill-climb section, one downhill section, one mixed-terrain loop, etc. Racers can start from one exchange zone or have exchange zones along the trail at convenient locations.
Equipment Relay (start with poles)
Skiers race five times around a short loop, alternating laps with their partner. After “tagging” their partner, skiers must take off one pole or ski for their next lap. The relay finishes with a running lap.
Skiers start with their skis off, run about 10 meters, put their skis on, and complete the relay.
For Sliding and Gliding
Furthest on One Ski
This exercise is designed to work on balance. Pick a tracked hill within the ability level of the group. You can decide whether or not to have the group take one ski off. Line up the skiers to go down the hill one at a time. Keep track of who can go the longest distance balanced on the one ski. Change skis, and learn to balance on the other side.
Through the Arches
Plant two poles and suspend another pole horizontally from the wrist loops. Ski down, duck under the pole.
Ski downhill without poles and grab snow with both hands, throw a snowball at a target.
Ski downhill balancing a snowball on the head. Who can ski the farthest?
To get good strong kicks for diagonal stride, try this exercise. Have the skiers on one ski only, in a straight track. Tell them to kick off with their non-ski foot, like they are on a scooter. A pole can be held crosswise to simulate “handlebars”. Try to glide with even, steady kicks. Change skis and repeat the game. Form the exercise into a relay race for a group activity.
For Downhill Skiing
Students follow you through slalom poles. Have students imitate the following skills:
- balancing on one ski to see how far they can go;
- skating on the flat or an easy downhill;
- pumping on the bumps to see how far they can glide out onto the flat section;
- jumping off small bumps and landing in a deep-knee telemark;
- a telemark turn;
- slalom on an easy hill.
Identify five pieces of pie from narrowest to widest wedge. You call out numbers of the pie for the skiers to execute. Or the skiers call out the number of their slice as they ski down the hill.
Set two poles side by side so the skiers can ski straight between them. Then have the skiers wedge down and close the wedge to squeeze between the poles. Open up the wedge to stop on the other side.
Set up two identical courses side by side and pairs of skiers (evenly matched) race to the bottom. Use poles, flags, road markers, colored plastic margarine containers.
Kneel on skis and race downhill steering with hands on ski tips. Give them different ways of coming back up the hills. Do not use poles.
Round the Peg
This exercise is designed to teach quick downhill turning ability, plus quick transition to uphill skiing. Pick a downhill within the ability level of the group. Place a peg or ski pole on a challenging portion of the downhill slope. Have the participants ski down, go around the peg, and quickly return to the top of the hill. Depending on the group, you can time them.
If you let your students jump, make sure that the jump has a proper outrun.
Games with Shared Equipment
Players earn one kick at a time by doing certain exercises (i.e. jumping jacks, double poles, etc.) Can play with multiple balls to make the game more exciting.
The Great Ski Chase (with or without poles)
Designate several “tag” areas and their boundaries. Pick teams of skiers, the “taggers”, for each area. Then pick older skiers, coaches, or parents for the “taggees”, one for each area. At the start, the “taggees” get a 30-second start. They then zigzag in their specified area and try to avoid being caught by their team of young “taggers.” Which team will capture their Leader first?
Sharks and Minnows
Minnows line up on the “beach” and one shark is it in the “ocean”. When the shark yells “minnows!” all the minnows have to ski across the sea to the beach on the other side. The beaches are safety zones. If a minnow is “tagged” they becomes a shark, too. Continue the games as more and more minnows turn into sharks until only one minnow is left.
Long ropes are used in this race. Divide the group into teams of two. One partner lines up behind the other, a long rope is put around the waist of the skier in front, and the skier in the back holds onto the “reins.” Make sure the rope is long enough that the two skiers are far enough apart. The skier in front pulls the skier behind down to a designated point and back by skiing. When a pair has finished, it “tags” the next team; the fastest team wins. If there are enough ropes, all teams can go at once.
Push the Piggy to Market (with or without poles)
Skiers use a ski pole to push a ball along a short trail (25-50 meters), turn around a flag, and return to tag their partner. Their partner then goes through the same procedure. Alternatively, skiers kick a ball with a ski tip as far as possible in two minutes. When the two minutes are up, the next team member takes over for two minutes, and so on.
Scavenger / Treasure Hunt
Pass out a list of easy to find items to each team. A 10-15 minute time limit will maintain excitement. Use natural items like a leaf, pine needles, stone, and/or sticks. Can also use playing cards and the skiers can play a round of poker when they return with their full hand.
Start with a few taggers. When someone gets “tagged” they are frozen. There are many variations for how they can get unfrozen (the person who “tagged” them gets “tagged” or they do an activity – i.e. sing a sing, do jumping jacks, push-ups, etc.)