A quick guide to tug of war

The earliest form of the game tug of war dates back to the start of the 16th century. Pitting two teams against each other it’s a sport of strength and is still played the world over.

Its origins are pretty uncertain but everyone involved more or less agrees that it was once practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and China.

Today, it isn’t as popular as it once was, but there are still world championships and chances are, there’s a tug of war team not so far away from you.

If you and your friends want to give the game a try, read on. We’re going to give you a quick guide to the rules and a few tips to help you get the advantage. Oh, and if want to get your hands on some professional standard tug of war ropes then we can help. Just click here and you can browse through our different lengths.

The rules

First up all players on both teams must agree to a location. Once decided they must walk the location to check that there are no unseen hazards like tree roots or rocks. Then they must mark out the centre line of the playing area using either tape or spray. Then mark out the two winning lines in a different colour on each side of the centre line (that’s the line you need to pull your opposition’s streamer over.)

The judge in the game needs to wrap tape around the rope marking a point on each side of the rope that the first participant’s hands will be.

There’s often a time limit on the game so that the players don’t cause themselves injury. Puling with all your strength for 20 minutes can seriously damage muscles.

There are a few things participants need to remember. You aren’t allowed to wear studded shoes or boots with metal soles. You can’t wear tape on your hands; you can’t sit and pull the rope. If you fall, you must stand back up immediately to resume pulling.

Top tips

Here are a few tips to give you the edge in your next tug of war game:

  • Know your team. Those with the strongest upper body should be arranged at the front and back. And don’t lump your weaker members all together, that’ll weaken your grip of the rope. Mix and match throughout.
  • It’s not all about pulling power. Much of the game depends on how you use your lower body to push against the ground and your upper body to hold onto the rope.
  • Keep your back straight as you and your team lean back. This’ll help prevent spine and arm injuries.
  • Legs should be firmly on the ground and spread apart to offer a wide base. Alternate each person on either side of the rope to distribute strength evenly.

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