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„Red Beard the pirate is looking for a new crew“

Gym exercises with a rope – not just for the sport hour.

In this game or themed evening, the children/teenagers practice strengthening and balance exercises which are good for the feet, while playing games. The exercises are incorporated in the story „Red Beard the pirate is looking for a new crew“.

I chose to play this game in a sports hall. In doing this, all necessary gym equipment was at hand. If this is not possible, improvisation is required. Some improvisation tips are given in brackets.


  • One skipping rope per team member (no handles. Tip: if you don’t have skipping ropes, buy a few metres of rope in the DIY store and cut it to suit)
  • CD-Player
  • approx.12 gym mats or roll mats
  • 2 small gym boxes or cardboard boxes
  • approx. 150 – 200 cardboard rolls (toilet paper rolls)
  • 1 CD per player (for decorating e.g. Promo CD from AOL)


To get everyone into the mood, the group leader tells a story about Red Beard the pirate and how he lost his whole crew in his last battle. The players should bring their own ideas and fantasies into the game. That makes the game more fun and leads to a funny story.

Warm-up games:

  1. Catching booty (= catching tails)

    Each pirate receives a skipping rope, which he folds in two and tucks into the back of the trousers, so that the rope can be seen. Each pirate should try to steal as much booty (ropes) as possible from the other players. Stolen ropes must also be tucked in to the trousers and cannot be held in the hand.

  2. Catching booty and defending (= an extra option to the above game)

    Just like the last game, each pirate has a skipping rope tucked into the back of his trousers. Every sixth player does not have a rope and is the catcher. Each pirate is only allowed to steal one rope. The player without any booty (no rope) must find a new one. The player whose booty is stolen automatically becomes the catcher.

Main section:

To find out whom the new crew members will be, Red Beard the pirate has thought up some tasks which the other pirates must complete.

All pirates now lay their booty (ropes) in the middle of the room. Everyone takes their shoes off and places them in the corner.

  1. Pirate fishing:

    The pirates make a circle around the ropes. The pirate captain (group leader) explains that his new crew must do a lot of work with their feet, because they need to keep their hands free for the dagger, the telescope, etc. The pirates must move themselves forward only using their toes to creep along until they reach the rope. When they reach the rope, they must lift up the rope with the toes.

  2. Pirate – Sea – Rope – Test:

    9 mats are spread out in the room as stations. 2 ropes and a task card are laid out on each mat. All stations are explained and demonstrated beforehand. The pirates must perform the exercises (approx 60-90 seconds) to music (song 7 from the CD Pop Fever “The pirates” might be suitable. When the music stops, the pirates move on to the next station in a clockwise direction.

    The pirates find a partner. Each pair must perform the following tasks:

    • Lie both skipping ropes next together (for example in an S-form) and try to walk along the rope forwards, backwards and sideways [show picture]
    • Proceed as above but with your eyes closed. Walk along the rope forwards, backsides and sideways – the partner should lead you [show picture]
    • On the tiptoes walk back and forwards along the rope [show picture]
    • Stand on your tiptoes and lower your heels until they touch the rope and then push yourself up again onto the tiptoes [show picture]
    • Tip your toes in front of the rope and the heels behind the rope in turn [show picture]
    • Grip the rope and balance on one leg (try swapping legs) [show picture]
    • A tug-of-war with the partner using the feet [show picture]
    • Try to tie a knot in the rope with your feet and then undo the knot with the feet [show picture]
    • Make a shape with the feet (examples – spiral, triangle) [show picture]
  3. Pirate booty:

    2 rows of mats are laid out. Between the two mats is a space (path). At the end of the row of mats is a (treasure) chest filled with paper rolls (which have been collected with the kids beforehand). Each pirate ties a knot in his rope and threads a CD onto the rope. (The CD is needed to stop the paper rolls falling off). The ropes with knots and CD and are placed on the opposite side of the room from the treasure chest.

    Each pirate must collect one piece of booty (paper roll) from the treasure chest with their foot and then roll the booty to the pirate ship with their (or hop along with the paper roll between the toes). The booty must now be sewn onto the rope with the feet. Who has the most booty at the end of the game? The path to the treasure is on the mat and the space in the middle is the return path. If the pirate prefers to transport the rolls between his toes and hop back to the ship, he should use the centre space (ground) on the way there and the mats on the way back (to protect the ankle joints).

  4. Rope course: „Trust the pirate blind“

    A rope course with ropes 50cm apart is laid out. A blindfolded pirate makes his way through the course. The other pirates are spread out and give out instructions: right, left, straight on. Each pirate can take their turn to be guided through the course.

    Option: You are not allowed to touch the ropes; otherwise you are overboard and out of the game. Who will manage the course without touching the ropes?

  5. Group work: „Pirate ship“

    The group must work together to form their ropes into a ship shape with their feet (other options: A pirate’s face or the word “Pirate”)

  6. Circle game: „Transporting Pearl Necklaces“

    The pirate captain collects all ropes in. The pirates make a circle and hold hands. A rope is tied together about the size of a CD (=pearl necklace). The necklace should now be passed along from player to player only using the feet. The necklace must not fall on the floor. More and more necklaces are slowly added in the circle. Option: You can place the necklace onto the top of the foot of the next player and transport the rope with the top of the foot. Different coloured necklaces are transported in different directions.

  7. Circle game: „Feeding sharks“

    The pirates stand in a circle. All of the pirates throw their rope into the middle of the circle with their foot (into the sea) to feed the sharks. They then recollect the rope with the foot so that they can throw it once again.

  8. Circle game: „Pirate party“

    All pirates stand in a circle and hold hands. A large ring is made by knotting a rope and each pirate must climb through the ring without letting go of the other player’s hands. The circle must remain in position – no pirates let go of the others hands. Once everyone has stepped through the ring, the direction is changed.

  9. Finale: Rain game/toe gymnastics

    All sit in a circle and play the rain game with their feet.

    • It’s pattering: wiggle the toes,
    • It’s raining: tap the toes on the ground,
    • It’s pouring: drum the toes on the ground,
    • Lightning: draw a lightning strike in the air with the feet.
    • The sun is shining again: circle the ankles,
    • Everyone is happy: clap the feet together.

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