By Craig Valency, MA, CSCS 

Playing on a team is not just about each person doing their job right, it’s also about that unspoken team chemistry that makes a good team great!

A novel way to foster this chemistry is with cooperative games. The travel circle is a fun way to get kids to realize that each person on the team must be on the same page and working together for the team to go anywhere!

The kids start out in a circle with the goal of moving in the directions called out by the instructor. By having the kids in a circle, either facing inward or outward and connected at the hands, they must control their speed of movement, as they respond to touch, proprioception, or pressure, and the direction of movement. By having the circle rotate clockwise or counterclockwise, you add another directional component and challenge the vestibular system of their inner ear, which leads to better balance and spatial orientation.

Now, if you really want to see cooperation ask the groups to all sit down and stand back up while their hands are connected and unable to be used for support!

By now you must realize that the team with the fastest kids is not the team with the advantage. It’s the team that works together and responds appropriately to their body’s internal senses that gets there first and fastest!

Travel circle will not only teach good cooperative skills and hone those internal senses like proprioceptive, tactile, and vestibular awareness. It also teaches kids a broader, global sense of direction as they are prompted to move (as a team) in directions such as North or South or towards main street or the school library.

There is a lot going on in this simple game! This may be too much of a challenge for some kids in terms of the tactile and proprioceptive tasks, If so, don’t despair, try a cooperation activity called partner mirror hands. This will prep kids to stay attuned to their partner through touch and pressure. To see all the videos in our archives make sure to subscribe to the SPIDERfit kids YouTube channel while you’re there.

Try the travel circle with your kids for a few weeks and let us know how they do once they learn it and practice. Are their internal senses getting sharper? Are they slowing down to speed up? Are they working more as a team to accomplish a goal rather than as individuals trying to win a race?

We’d love your feedback! Happy travels!

Travel Circle

Age: 8+

Total time: 1-2 minutes

Equipment: Cones or markers

Group size: *2 or more

Set up: Basic 15-20 yard (or more) cone grid to establish space

Fitness component: Awareness/Coordination

  1. Place the children into groups of 2 or more.
  2. Instruct them to form a circle by linking any body part and facing either in to the circle, or away from the circle.
  3. Call out global directions, such as North, South, East, or West.
  4. The children must stay in their circle and maintain contact with one another and move in the direction called.
  5. Calling out bordering countries or local landmarks can also help create a sense of global direction.
  6. Add the variation of “clockwise” and “counterclockwise” while they move in a direction. (This can also be done individually).

* For individuals, repeat the same set up, only have them use any movement pattern to move in the directions. For increased difficulty, instruct them to close their eyes.

We'd love your feedback!