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How to Play Red Rover

Red Rover is a fun call-and-response game where teams form chains and try to run through the opponent's chain. You don't need any equipment or a special field to play on, you can start a game of Red Rover just about anywhere. Red Rover is a great game that uses strategy, builds teamwork skills, and can give you a bit of exercise too. So get some friends together and play!

Part One of Two:
Forming Teams

  1. 1
    Find at least six people to play. Red rover is a team game, so you will need at least three people on each team to play.[1] The more people you can get to join your game of Red Rover, the more fun you will have.
    • Since you want a lot of players, Red Rover is an ideal game to play at recess in school when you know lots of potential players will be there to join.
    • If you want to set up a game outside of school, plan it a day or two in advance so you have more time to get players to join.
  2. 2
    Pick a captain for each team. The team captains can then flip a coin to determine who gets the first pick. The captain that doesn't win the coin toss can take the first turn in the game.
  3. 3
    Divide the players into two equal teams. The captains can take turns picking players until everyone has a team.
  4. 4
    Have each team stand in a straight line, holding hands. The teams will face each other, standing between six and ten yards apart. The further apart the teams are, the more distance players have to pick up speed before they reach the other team's line. It's a good idea to keep the distance between teams smaller for younger children to lower the chance of injuries.
    • Use strategy when creating your line. Have stronger players join hands with weaker players to make sure your line holds.

Part Two of Two:
Taking Turns

  1. 1
    Call a player over. The team that goes first decides who to "call over" from the other team. Once the team has decided, they sing, "Red Rover, Red Rover, will (name) come over!"
    • When choosing who to call you will want to use some strategy. Don't call the biggest, strongest person who is likely to get through the line first. Pick the player who you think you can stop.
  2. 2
    The player who was called runs across the space between teams and tries to break through the arms of two players. The runner should use some strategy when taking their turn. Find the weak link and go for it. Avoid going at the strongest players unless you feel confident you can break the link.
  3. 3
    If the player doesn't get through the line, they join the opposing team. However, if they break through, they go back to their own team. They can take one of the players whose arms the broke through with them.
    • Some people play where only the runner goes back to the original team, without taking additional players.
    • You can also play where the runner selects anyone from the opposing team once the break through the line. If so, break through the weakest spot and take the strongest player.[2]
  4. 4
    Continue playing until one team is down to one person. When one team is no longer able to make a chain, the other team wins. [3] If your friends have time and are up for it, you can pick some new teams and start playing all over again.

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Is Red Rover a more dangerous game for adults to play than it is for children?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It depends. Some adults may be weak or old; other adults may be bursting with energy. Always ask them if they want to play or not. Be aware that sometimes, things go wrong, and people may get hurt. Red Rover may not be the best game for weaker adults, but it still is possible for adults to play.
    Thanks! 9 4
  • How long does Red Rover take to play?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • It depends on the amount of people. The fewer people, the shorter the game.
    Thanks! 6 4
  • Can kids play, and is it true someone could break their arm doing this?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Kids can play this (and have been playing it for over 100 years). The truth is, someone could break an arm doing just about any physical activity, but as long as no one gets too rough, the game is perfectly safe. Establish ground rules ahead of time if you want, and end the game if anybody breaks the rules or someone gets hurt.
    Thanks! 1 0
  • How old do I have to be to play Red Rover?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • There is no age restriction as long as the participant understands how to play.
    Thanks! 4 5
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  • There are many variations on gameplay. For example, another common version of the song is, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send (name) right over!"
    0 Helpful?  0
  • The more people, the better the game will be.
    0 Helpful?  0
  • Play with friends.
    1 Helpful?  0


  • Play on a soft surface such as a grassy field in case someone falls.
    37 Helpful?  9
  • If you are playing with small children or players who are shorter, be careful that the opposing team's hands do not hit their necks when they run. Remember, it's just a game!
    6 Helpful?  1

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About This Article

41 votes - 86%
Co-authors: 16
Views: 102,263
Categories: Backyard Games

Reader Success Stories

  • CR

    Cheri Ross

    Aug 14, 2016

    "This is a game I remember from my childhood, but I had forgotten some of the details. I was trying to explain it to my husband, who had not ever heard of it, so this article was very helpful."..." more
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    Jun 24, 2016

    "Tonight I am having to set up games for my sister's graduation party. I forgot how to play this and it helped! Thanks. "..." more
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    Jul 10, 2017

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