Creating Healthy Competition

Creating Healthy Competition

Healthy competition provides motivation, determination, perseverance and the understanding that hard work leads to greater success. Here are some tips for integrating healthy competition elements into your facilitation that will result in increased participation, faster transition between activities, and more enjoyment for both you and your participants.

Keep Score

Points are a valuable resource you can use in your teaching. Make sure that it is known early on that no matter the game you are playing, the end result is to have a good time. Acknowledge healthy competition by setting  rules in a way that encourages motivation while limiting negative competition.

Try this script:

“Ladies and Gents, we are about to play a game. If you don’t win this particular game, you are not a terrible, horrible, person.  (The following spoken quickly like a disclaimer) The points and scoring are completely made up by me. I am the judge of all things. If you complain about my judging, you’ll lose a million points, if you argue or debate or boo the other team, you’ll lose a million points. The outcome of this game is completely unimportant. (Spoken slowly and loudly) The winning team will receive the grand prize- an IMAGINARY million dollars and a free trip to (whatever activity or funny place around school)!”

How you can keep score:

  • Teams can come up with team names and earn points for wittiest ideas.
  • Assign points to participants and groups that are modeling appropriate behavior.
  • After successfully playing a game, allocate points to the participants.
  • Take points away from teams (not individuals) when necessary.

Use Time Limits

Do you remember when you were a child and an adult would time you to see how quickly you could complete a task they gave you? Remember racing around your bedroom to see how many of your toys you could put away in 10 seconds?  Would you have moved as quickly if you were asked to clean your room? Time limits create suspense, speed and more risk taking.

Try these time challenges:

  • Give a group a set, short amount of time to share their activity.
  • Give a set amount of time for participants to get in the position you want them in.
  • Speed up a performance by telling participants it must be done in ½ time. 

Make Teams

Making teams is an easy way to have more participants participate and increase investment in the activity. Rather than an arbitrary counting-1-2-3, try one of these creative ways to divide your group.

Try the following creative group splitting techniques:

  • Ask participants how much they know about a topic and then pair experts with novices, or experts with experts, etc.
  • Randomly hand out cards/paper with images familiar to them and have them to find someone with a card that “goes” with or matches their card.
  • Take a pack of playing cards – randomly give out the kings, queens and jacks. Pair/team up accordingly.
  • Assign participants different animals when they enter the space. Have them make the sound of that animal and find everyone else who has the same animal.  

Institute “Outs”

When done correctly, “outs” can be a strong motivation for participants to actively participate in your activity.

Incorporate the following factors to make your activity elimination-style:

  • Setup the game so one round can be completed in less than 5 minutes.
  • Locate and set clear parameters for “Jail,” and getting out of “Jail.”
  • Find a sub-activity for kids in jail to do during the main activity.
  • Create clear rules for elimination and a no complaining rule.

We hope these tips help you instill a winning attitude!