Aaron Waid
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Sneak is an awesome game that gets everyone moving, strategizing, and really burning off some energy in big open spaces. This is the perfect game for promoting teamwork and fun competition, and it can be set up for gameplay in less than a couple minutes with just a few basic pieces of equipment you might have on hand.

Sneak pits two teams against one another with the goal being to steal balls from an opponent’s side of the field without getting tagged. If you’d like to play this game with your students, be sure to review all of the rules closely before gameplay begins to ensure the best experience. We’ve included a script that you can read aloud to your youth to help communicate how to play, as well as detailed instructions in a step by step format.

Number of Participants – 10 Minimum – No Maximum
Equipment Needed – 10 balls (large or small, must be safe), 2 hula hoops, 4 traffic cones (or another ground marker), and an open field or gym

Setting Up The Sneak Playing Field

In order to set up the playing area, you’ll need to divide your available area into two halves. You’ll then place a hula hoop in the center of each of the halves. The hula hoops are the “Ball Zones.” Before the game begins, you’ll need to divide your group into two even number teams. Then, place the hula hoops in the center of each half and fill with 5 balls each. Finally, take your traffic cones and mark a small rectangular area at the back of each of the playing halves, which is the “Waiting Area.”

Sneak Game Instructions | Youth Group Games | Games For Youth | No Prep Games

Sneak Group Game Instructions (Read Aloud)

“We’re gonna play “Sneak,” a game with two teams competing to steal and possess the largest number of balls from the other team. First, we will divide into two teams. Each team defends one half of the field where every member of their team is always SAFE. Each half of the field has a “Ball Zone” with 5 balls inside and a “Waiting Area.” The object of the game is to take your opponent’s balls and place them in your own hula hoop. You can steal balls by crossing over into your opponents half and taking them out of their “Ball Zone.” Once picked up, you can throw balls to other players of your own team, but only on the opponent’s side of the field. A player can only handle one opponent’s ball at a time. You may not throw balls into your own territory. If you are tagged by an opposing player on their half of the field, you have to go to their “Waiting Zone.” You can only leave the “Waiting Area” if you are tagged by a member of your own team, at which point you may both walk safely and directly back to your half of the field. You may defend both your own “Ball Zone” and “Waiting Zone,” but you must stay at least 3 feet (or 1 meter) away from edge of both zones. If a player reaches an opponent’s ball zone without being tagged, they may place one foot inside the hula hoop and be considered safe. If you defend your zone and tag a player with one of your ball or intercept a ball, you must return it to your “Ball Zone” immediately. The game continues until one side possesses 9 out of the 10 balls, or a side no longer has enough players free of the “Waiting Zone” to continue to play.

Detailed Instructions

  1. First, establish your playing area. The largest possible size of playing field would be a basketball court, and even then only if you have a larger group (See Game Modifications Below).
  2. Divide the playing area in half. Place a hula hoop with 5 balls in the center of each playing area. Then using cones or another marker, establish a Waiting Zone at the rear of each half.
  3. Divide your group into two teams.
  4. As the game starts, each side attempts to steal balls from the other’s playing zone.
  5. Players can defend their “Ball Zone” and “Waiting Zone,” but may not stand closer than 3 feet (or 1 meter) from the edge of each zone.
  6. If a player reaches the opponent’s “Ball Zone”, they may be considered safe as long as they have one foot (or hand) inside the “Ball Zone.”
  7. Players at their opponent’s “Ball Zone” can throw the balls to other teammates on the opponent’s side of the field or run with the ball towards their side.
  8. Players can only handle one opponent’s ball at a time.
  9. Players cannot randomly throw balls out of the “Ball Zone” or throw the balls to players on their own side of the field.
  10. If a player is tagged on the opponent’s side of the field, they must go to the “Waiting Zone” and await rescue.
  11. To rescue a teammate, a player must run to the “Waiting Zone” (without being tagged first) and tag a teammate. Upon being tagged, both players are Safe, but must immediately walk back to their side of the field.
  12. Gameplay continues until one side wins 9 out of the 10 balls (or all 10, if you decide), or the number of players in the “Waiting Area” is so lopsided that one team cannot hope to rescue anymore.

Sneak Game Modifications

  • Add More “Ball Zones.” If you have a larger group, you can add extra ball zones and more balls to accommodate the extra players, assuming you have enough room.
  • Waiting Zone Time Limits. If you find players have difficulty rescuing other players from the “Waiting Zone” or you simply want to keep youth more engaged in the game, you can limit the amount of time spent in the “Waiting Zone” to one or two minutes. It may help to have “referees” at each “Waiting Zone” to monitor the time spent there by players. Be sure that players released under this rule walk immediately back to their half of the field.
  • Add A Neutral Zone. If you have a larger group and playing area, you can create a third area in the middle of the field where only players holding the ball can be tagged, but everyone else can enter and leave freely. With a Neutral Zone, players can throw the opponent’s ball to teammates in this area.

Sneak Game Instructions | Youth Group Games | Games For Youth | No Prep Games