By Craig Valency, MA, CSCS

Speed is more than just getting from point A to point B really, really fast. In life, and in sports, there are usually obstacles, various surfaces to contend with, hills and valleys and of, course, someone might be trying to take you down!

Airplanes is a game that develops spatial awareness and ultimately change of direction speed and agility. Kids typically don’t judge too well how much space their body takes up or the best way to negotiate around objects or other people. Basically, they bump their way around things until they figure it out.

With this game kids fully extend their arms and have to duck, dive, dip, and drop their way around other kid “airplanes.” This develops their sense of the total space their body occupies and begins to develop coordinated, reactive movements that begin to flow together. This is the foundation of being a great basketball or tennis player, but it also develops a child’s ability to simply move through life more smoothly and for the sake of their parents, more safely!

With Airplanes kids are just playing, laughing, and having fun but now you know how much is really going on.

Try Airplanes and see how many crashes or near collisions you witness. What are some of the creative moves you see? Share some of your best Airplane stories in the comments below!      


Age: 6+

Total time: 2-3 minutes

Equipment: Cones or markers

Group size: 6 or more

Set up: Basic 15-20 yard cone grid to establish space

Fitness component: Awareness/coordination, General fitness (muscular, cardiovascular)

  1. Arrange children randomly in the space.
  2. Instruct them to put their arms out to the side of their body like an “airplane.”
  3. On “go” they “fly” around the space keeping their arms straight out to the side of their body.
  4. They are instructed to avoid contact with any other “airplanes” by dodging, ducking, rolling, tilting, or any other movement strategy.
  5. They cannot drop or bend either arm and must move in a random pattern (they cannot just move around the outside of the space).

We'd love your feedback!