Sharks and Minnows Game: Unlimited Fun Outdoor Game


Sharks and Minnows game, a beloved playground classic, takes on a thrilling new form on the soccer field, providing an engaging and energizing experience for young players aged U6 and U8.

Striking the right balance between competition and simplicity is essential for these budding athletes, making the game an ideal fit.

By encouraging running, chasing, and refining footwork, the Sharks and Minnows game keeps kids active and imparts valuable ball control skills from an early age.

What is the game sharks and minnows?

Sharks and Minnows is a fun game where one person, the shark, stands in the middle. The other players, called minnows, try to run from one side of the playing area to the other without getting tagged by the shark. If a minnow gets tagged, it becomes a shark, too. The game keeps going until only one minnow is left, and that player is the winner. It’s a cool game to run around, have fun, and see who can avoid getting caught.

Why Sharks And Minnows Game Is Popular?

Sharks and Minnows is a game that teachers and coaches like because it’s a fun way for kids to get exercise. Teachers in Physical Education (PE) classes enjoy it because it’s a structured and enjoyable way to encourage physical activity.

Coaches from sports like basketball and soccer also like it because they can change the game to include skills like dribbling a soccer ball or a basketball, and it helps kids stay fit.

Kids love Sharks and Minnows because everyone gets to join in and have fun. You’re either a minnow trying not to get caught or a shark trying to catch the minnows. It keeps you moving and having a good time.

What You Learn From Sharks And Minnows

Sharks and Minnows is not just a game; it’s also a way to learn new things! It helps you become better at listening because the shark gives two instructions in each round.

You also get to understand personal boundaries, which means knowing how much space is okay for everyone. And, while playing, you’re also getting better at moving your body, which is called gross motor skills.

How Many Can Play

Sharks and Minnows is super fun with lots of friends, at least ten or more. But, if you only have a few friends around (like four), that works too.

If more than 15 friends are playing, you can make the play area bigger for more room to run. And if you want to make it even more exciting, add 1 or 2 extra sharks at the start of the game.

How Long Does The Game Last?

A regular game of Sharks and Minnows usually goes on for about 15 to 20 minutes. It’s divided into three parts, each lasting around 5 minutes. In each part, there are 5 to 10 rounds where kids run back and forth across the field until only one minnow is left.

What Do You Need To Play?

You don’t need much for this fun outdoor game! Just find a place to play outside, like a schoolyard, park, soccer field, or pool, and gather some friends who are excited to play.

You don’t need any extra equipment, but if you want, you can use plastic cones or markers (which are optional) to show specific areas. Kids can wear pull-off flags instead of tagging to make things safer. And don’t forget to check out the tutorial below for the game rules.

How To Play Sharks And Minnow Game

Setting Up Where You Can Play 

Deciding where you can play Sharks and Minnows is important. Usually, you play in a rectangular area, like half of a soccer field, basketball court, or hockey rink.

Make sure it’s not too wide so players can stay close enough for tagging. You can mark the boundaries with cones or use the natural lines of the field. If you’re playing in a pool, just use the edge of the pool as the playing area.

Picking the Shark and Minnows 

In each game, one person is the shark (tagger), and everyone else is a minnow. To decide who the first shark will be, you can choose someone based on age or use a simple method like rock, paper, scissors if there is more than one volunteer.

Get Ready, Minnows 

Ask all the minnows to stand in a line at one end of the playing area. This line is like a safe area until the shark tells them it’s time to start.

Place the Shark in the Middle 

Put the shark in the middle of the playing area before the game begins.

Time to Play

When the shark calls out to the minnows, usually saying something like “Hey minnows, swim this way,” that’s the signal to start the game. The safe area disappears, and minnows can be tagged anywhere. Some may run right away, while others might wait or stick together for safety.

Get Ready for the “Shark Alert” 

At any time, the shark can shout, “Shark Alert!” This means all minnows should try to run to the other side of the field without getting tagged.

Run Across the Field and Avoid Tags 

The main goal for minnows is to reach the other side of the playing area without getting tagged by the shark. If they manage to do this without getting tagged, they are safe and can play in the next round.

Turn Tagged Minnows into Sharks 

If the shark tags a minnow, that minnow becomes part of the shark team for the next round.

Keep Playing Rounds Until One Minnow Is Left 

As the game goes on, there will be more sharks and fewer minnows. Keep playing rounds until only one minnow remains.

Declare the Winner 

The last minnow left is the winner of the game.

Start the Next Game 

In the next game, the winner from the last game (the last minnow left) becomes the new shark.

Sharks And Minnows Game Rules

In the Sharks and Minnows game, the rules are designed to help you become better at dribbling and handling the ball:

  1. Get a Ball: Everyone gets a ball except for at least two designated sharks. This is to help you practice controlling the ball and dribbling it well.
  2. Minnows’ Ball Skills: If you’re a minnow (one with a ball), you need to control the ball carefully to avoid the sharks taking it. Coaches want you to learn how important it is to dribble and handle the ball skillfully.
  3. Stay Inside the Lines: Make sure you stay within the playing area. Going outside is like being tagged, and you become a shark in the next round.
  4. Move During a Shark Attack: When a “shark attack” is called, try to move across the field. This keeps the game exciting. While there’s no strict time limit for moving, you can follow a rule like “within seven counts from the shark attack” if needed.
  5. Safety for Successful Players: If you reach the other end of the field without being tagged, you’re safe until the next round. The shark will call you to play again, and the game continues.

These rules make the game fun and help you become better at handling the ball. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Variations For Sharks And Minnows


If a minnow gets tagged, it stays where it got tagged for more rounds. They don’t move, but they can reach out and tag other minnows passing by. This works well in smaller areas like a pool, where staying away from the tagged players is tough.

Blind Shark

In the pool version, sometimes the sharks close their eyes to make it more challenging. But be careful! It’s not safe to play outside of the pool with closed eyes.

Playing Area 

Sharks and minnows can be played in many places—like a pool, on grass, in a gym, or anywhere outside. The game is the same, but make sure the space is big enough to move around and narrow enough for the sharks to tag a minnow in most rounds.

Sport Drills 

Coaches use sharks and minnows to practice many sports. The rules are similar, but now you use a ball (or puck) in the game. When kids play, the coach is often the first shark.

Swipe and Score

If you have less than ten players, try this cool version of sharks and minnows. Using our standard soccer rebounder to keep the ball in play is best.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Set up two goals on each side of the playing area.
  2. Tell the sharks to steal the ball and score before the minnow turns into a shark.
  3. This allows the minnow to catch up to their ball and try to get it back.
  4. Make the playing area bigger, or try a simpler version if it feels too crowded.

The minnow becomes a shark when the shark steals the ball and scores.

This game teaches kids to act fast. If their ball gets taken, they only have a short time to get it back before the other team scores.

Try Using One Foot

If you want to make the game more challenging, tell your players to use only one foot in each round. At first, they can use both feet, but in the next round, they should only use their left foot. If you catch them using their right foot, they become seaweed. It’s a fun way to practice and get better.

Let’s see how coaches use sharks and minnows to help kids get better at sports:

In Soccer

In Soccer Sharks and Minnows, we put a fun soccer twist on the classic game. The rules are slightly different, but it’s still fun.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Dribbling Instead of Running: The minnows now dribble a soccer ball instead of just running. It’s like moving the ball around with their feet.
  2. Shark Tries to Stop Dribbling: The shark’s job is to try and stop the minnows from dribbling. If a minnow’s dribbling is interrupted, it’s like being tagged, and that minnow becomes a shark, too.
  3. Smaller Playing Area with Cones: The field is smaller, marked by cones. This makes the game more exciting and helps everyone stay involved.
  4. Coaches Use it to Teach Dribbling Skills: Coaches love this drill because it’s fun and helps kids practice their dribbling skills. They learn to control the ball with short dribbles to keep it safe and use longer dribbles when they’re running to the other end.

So, Soccer Sharks and Minnows is a cool way to have fun with soccer and become better at dribbling, too.

In Basketball 

Basketball Sharks and Minnows is a fun way to play basketball with a special twist. Let’s break it down to see how it works.

  1. Dribbling Fun: Instead of just running, the minnows dribble a basketball. This means they get to show off their basketball moves by bouncing the ball as they run.
  2. Shark’s Job: The shark’s goal is to stop the minnows from dribbling. If a minnow’s dribble is interrupted, it’s like being tagged, and that minnow becomes a shark, too.
  3. Half-Court Action: The playing area is like half of a basketball court. It’s not too big, so everyone stays involved and has more fun.
  4. Coaches Teach Skills: Coaches love this game because it’s not just about having a good time; it helps kids practice their basketball skills. They learn to control the ball with their hands while running – an important skill in basketball.

So, Basketball Sharks and Minnows is a cool way to enjoy basketball while also getting better at handling the ball. Have a great time on the court.


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In conclusion, the Sharks and Minnows game is beloved and adaptable, bringing its lively spirit to the soccer field for young players. With a blend of competition and simplicity, it fosters active engagement and imparts valuable ball control skills to budding athletes aged U6 and U8.

This classic playground game, cherished by teachers and coaches alike, transcends its recreational nature by promoting physical activity and fundamental lessons in listening, respecting boundaries, and enhancing gross motor skills.

Sharks and Minnows are versatile across various play areas and sports drills, making it a cherished choice for fun and athletic development, creating lasting childhood memories.


Q: What are the rules for sharks and minnows pool?

A: The minnows move slowly towards the sharks. At any point, the shark can shout, “Shark Attack!” and the minnows must sprint to the opposite boundary line without getting tagged. If a minnow is tagged, it transforms into a shark. When only one or two minnows are left, they take on the role of sharks in the next round.

Q: What is another name for sharks and minnows?

A: In the game of Sharks and Minnows, also known as “Fishy, Fishy Cross My Sea,” “Bear and Salmon,” or “Birds/Birdseed,” one individual begins in the centre of a designated area. The goal for the remaining participants is to traverse the space without getting tagged. If tagged, players switch to the predator team.

Q: Where did the game sharks and minnows come from?

A: Sharks and Minnows, also recognized as Sharks and Fish or Sharks and Dolphins, are thought to have emerged in the United States during the early 20th century. Initially becoming popular as a common schoolyard game, it swiftly expanded in popularity and became widely enjoyed in playgrounds throughout the nation.

Q: What Games are Similar? 

A: If you like Sharks and Minnows, you might enjoy other games too! In the pool, you can try Marco Polo or Goofy. On land, games like Red Rover and different types of tag are also super fun. So, grab your friends and have a blast playing.

Q: Playing with More Friends?

A: If you have a lot of friends playing, you can make Sharks and Minnows even more fun. Here are two ways:

  1. More Sharks: Add another shark to start the game. This makes it more exciting from the beginning.
  2. Bigger Play Area: If you have lots of space, make the playing area bigger. This way, everyone has more room to run around.