Over my last decade in education, working with students of just about every age level, I have learned one thing that students love: competition. Between creating fun relay races for my students and kids in my youth group, I have a lot of insight into which races will be the most fun! Here I have put together 25 of my all-time favorite relay race games for you and your students to enjoy!
1. The Potato Sack Race
We are going to kick off our list of fun activities with this classic relay race game! The potato sack race has long been a staple in relay race activities. Set up a finish line and a starting line, and watch the fun ensue.
- Potato sacks (I like to use pillowcases in a pinch)
- Tape to set up a start and a finish line
Learn more: Amazon
2. Hippy Hop Ball Race
The hip-hop ball race will end with fun and laughter, whether you’re setting up games for little kids or adults. Like the race above, you need a few hippie hop balls as well as a start and finish line.
- 2-4 Hippy Hop Balls
- Tape for a start and finish line
Learn more: Amazon
3. The Three-Legged Race
I recommend not using less than 8-10 players for this particular game. The goal is for two players to work together as a team to make it to the finish line with a right and a left leg tied together to make the “third leg.”
- Rope to create the “third leg”
- Something like tape to indicate a start and finish line
4. Find the Color of Popcorn Kernels
Take five individual popcorn kernels and color them various colors. Then place them in a bowl full of regular popcorn kernels, almost to the point of overflowing. The goal is for each team to recover all different colored kernels without ANY spilling over. Spilling over will require teams to put all kernels back in the bowl and restart.
- Bowls of popcorn kernels
- Various colored permanent markers
Learn more: Mexican Please
5. The Crabs Race Relay
While crabs may not be our favorite animals, this game is fun! Get in the crab position and race to the finish line! I would watch this video with your students and then let them crabwalk, or run, across the finish line.
Learn more: Livestrong Woman
6. Red Solo Cup Challenge
My students LOVE this game and competing with others. Cut a minimum of four pieces of twine and tie them to a rubber band. Using only the string with the rubber band, stack six plastic cups into a tower.
- Red Solo Cups
- Rubber Bands
7. Back-to-Back Stand Up
All you do with this activity is gather kids in a circle with their backs facing inward. Have them all sit down in a circle, backs still to the center, and interlock arms. All students must stand up with their arms interlocked the entire time.
Learn more: Dustin Moore
8. Balloon Waddle Race
This fun team game is definitely one that is comical. Give each person an inflated balloon to place between the thighs/knees. The player must waddle with the balloon between their legs to the finish. If the balloon falls or pops, it must start over.
- Inflated Balloons
- Start and finish line
- Use cones if you want to make this a more challenging course.
Learn more: David Morehead
9. Egg and Spoon Race
The classic egg and spoon race is one that your entire team will enjoy. Place the egg in the spoon and race, carefully balancing your egg so that it doesn’t drop.
- A full egg carton
- 2-4 Teams with at least two people in each
- Plastic spoons
Learn more: Early Learning Centre
10. Fill the Bucket Race
There are lots of variations to this game. Overall, the official object of the game is to somehow transport water from one end of a room to the bucket at the other.
- Buckets with water
- Start/finish lines
Learn more: Ladies Kitty
11. No Equipment- Just RUN!
Who needs a bunch of fancy ideas for a relay race when all you need is your legs and some energy? Challenge your learners to a fun sprint-off!
Learn more: Cleveland Clinic
12. Hula Hoop Relay Race
There are so many different ways to complete a hula hoop relay race. Typically, I would have my students hula hoop from one end of the gym to the other until students have gone back and forth a few times.
- Hula Hoops
- Start and finish line
Learn more: High-Level Group on Motor Learning
13. Scavenger Hunt Relay Race
This activity will be a blast if the rain keeps you from going outside and doing traditional relay races. Form teams of three to four kids and give them each a scavenger hunt paper to send off on a hunt.
Learn more: Mo Lo’s Speech Blog
14. Head-to-Head Balloon Race
Kids will definitely need body coordination to complete this head-to-head race. All you have to do is blow up some balloons! The game’s object is to get from one end of the gym to the other by transporting the balloon with only your forehead! To clarify, the balloon must be transported by two people working together, holding the balloon only between their foreheads.
Learn more: Factory Direct Party
15. Human Wheelbarrow Race
This is another favorite relay race, perfect for birthday parties or your next family reunion. Place players into pairs and have them race against other teams by walking on their hands from start to finish.
Learn more: Topend Sports
16. Fake Pony Ride Race
Adult or kid, racing with a fake pony is hilariously fun. The ride with the fastest time wins!
- Fake stick ponies
Learn more: Kevin B. Moore
17. Water Balloon Toss
A water balloon toss is an excellent option if you’re looking for relay races on a hot day. I like to put my kid groups into two circles. Students will toss the water balloon back and forth until one pops! The last one with a water balloon intact wins!
- Balloons filled with water
- Buckets to store water balloons
Learn more: The Genius of Play
18. Panty Hose on Your Head Game
Also known as “pantyhose bowling,” I have played this game and almost died of laughter. You will need about 10 empty water bottles per team for this game, pantyhose, and some golf balls.
- Golf balls
- Water bottles
Learn more: Mr. Peace
19. Bean Bag Relay Game
I’ve never played this particular bean bag relay game, but it looks fantastic! Check out the YouTube video above to learn how to play this game. The goal of this game is for each player to walk to a designated point, balancing a bean bag on their head. Teams that have all players do this first, win!
- Hand-size bean bags
Learn more: Fit Kids Healthy Kids
20. Leap Frog Relay Race
Who doesn’t remember playing leapfrog as a kid? Make this classic playgroup game into a fun play race. First, get into a leapfrog formation and form a line until someone gets to the finish line! Check out the video above for a visual!
Learn more: JPearson 6656
21. The Mummy Wrap Race
One year my daughter had a Halloween party theme for her birthday. One of her party games included children being put into pairs and then wrapped with toilet paper as quickly as possible. This game costs very little and is so much fun!
- Toilet paper
22. Get on ALL the Clothes
This super fun dress-up race is one your kids will not forget. Create two piles of tons of different clothing items. Have students race to see who can get the different clothing items on the fastest.
- Old clothing items (preferably larger ones)
23. The Banana Foot Relay Race
This banana foot relay race is a new one that I’m sure I will play with my students and youth group! Using only their feet, kids pass a banana over their heads to the next person. You can receive the banana with ONLY your feet. Check the video above to learn how!
Learn more: Mr. Peace
Did you know February 23, 2023, is National Tug-of-war day? I love this alternative race idea because it is a great team-building activity that doesn’t require much athleticism.
- Tie to indicate the middle of the rope and crossing line
Learn more: Days of the Year
25. Classic Egg Toss
If you are looking for an alternative race idea, this game is low-key and allows for all types of players, including those with varied physical abilities.
- One egg for every two people
Learn more: Youth Group Collective