A great activity for everyone

Hoedown Tag

Get your heart racing with this thrilling twist on tag, where running and reaction skills are put to the test in a wild chase!

Hoedown Tag
By Jon Zajac

What is Hoedown Tag?

Hoedown Tag is a lively icebreaker game that involves players running and reacting quickly to avoid being tagged while trying to link up with other players. The objective of the game varies depending on your role – as a tagger, you aim to tag open players, while as an open player, your goal is to evade the tagger and stay connected to your partner. This game is suitable for medium to large groups of kids and teens aged 6 and above, making it an excellent choice for schools or social gatherings. With no preparation or materials required, Hoedown Tag is a spontaneous and energetic group activity that encourages interaction and fun.

In this game, players form pairs and link hands by their elbows, spreading out across the room or field. The tagger chases after the runner, who tries to find a partner to link with, causing another player to become the new runner. If the tagger catches up to a runner, their roles reverse. Hoedown Tag is an engaging and active icebreaker that promotes socializing, teamwork, and physical movement. It shares similarities with other games like Halloween Tag, Duck, Duck, Goose, Wolves and Rabbits, Cat and Sparrows, and Homeless Rabbit, making it a versatile addition to any group activity lineup.

Back to top

Rules for Hoedown Tag

  • Put players in pairs by linking hands at the elbow.
  • Spread out paired players across the room or field.
  • The player without a partner becomes the first tagger and runner.
  • The tagger’s goal is to tag the runner.
  • The runner’s goal is to avoid the tagger and find a pair to join, linking hands with one of them.
  • The player on the opposite side of the paired players becomes the new runner.
  • If the tagger catches a runner, the roles reverse.
  • Players must keep their linked hands raised when joining a new pair to avoid confusion.

Back to top

Materials needed for Hoedown Tag

  • Open space: Hoedown Tag is best played in a wide-open field or gym, providing enough room for players to run about.
  • Energy: Although not a physical material, having lots of energy is essential for running and playing the game.

Note: No additional materials are required to play Hoedown Tag, making it an ideal choice for a quick and engaging icebreaker game on short notice.

Back to top

Setting up for Hoedown Tag

To set up for the Hoedown Tag icebreaker game, you need to put your players in pairs and have them spread out across a room or field. The players should link hands by their elbows. Then, designate one player as the tagger and another as the runner. The remaining players will be paired up with partners.

Before starting the game, it is important to ensure that there is enough space for the players to run around safely. Ideally, a wide-open field would be perfect for this activity. If played indoors, make sure to choose a spacious area clear of any obstructions or breakable items.

Once all the players are paired up and spread out in the designated area, you can begin the game by having the tagger chase after the runner, as explained in the detailed instructions above. The key is to have enough space for players to move around freely while avoiding collisions or injuries.

Again, there are no materials required for this icebreaker activity; only the preparation of pairing up players and designating the initial tagger and runner is necessary.

Back to top

How to play Hoedown Tag

  1. Gather players and form pairs: I gather a group of at least 6 players and have them pair up by linking hands at their elbows. I make sure to mix up the pairs randomly to encourage interaction between participants who may not know each other well.
  2. Select initial runner and tagger: I choose one player from the paired-up group to be the first runner, and another to be the initial tagger. The remaining players will start as part of a pair.
  3. Spread out across the playing area: I have all paired players spread out evenly across the room or outdoor space, creating enough distance between each pair for ease of movement.
  4. Start the game with the runner and tagger: The initial runner starts running while the tagger chases them. The aim for the tagger is to catch up to the runner, while the runner’s goal is to avoid being caught.
  5. Runner links hands with a pair of players: When the runner successfully evades the tagger, they try to link hands with one player from any paired group by grasping their linked elbows. Once connected, the runner becomes part of that pair, and the player on the opposite side of the paired group becomes the new runner.
  6. Tagger becomes part of a pair if successful: If the tagger catches up to the runner before they can link hands with another pair, the tagger takes the place of the runner, and the caught runner must find a new pair to join by linking elbows with one player from the group. The original tagger then becomes part of the paired group that the escaped runner joined, and the game continues.
  7. Play until the desired duration or energy level is reached: I continue the game for a set time (5-15 minutes) or until players tire out. Encourage fair play, sportsmanship, and ensure everyone gets an opportunity to be both tagger and runner during the game.

Back to top

Benefits of Hoedown Tag

  • Encourages Physical Activity: Hoedown Tag is an active icebreaker game that will have players running around, which can help improve their physical fitness and overall health.
  • Promotes Teamwork: By having players work together in pairs, Hoedown Tag encourages teamwork and cooperation as they try to avoid being tagged by the runner.
  • Improves Reaction Time: As the tagger gets closer, open players must react quickly to find a new partner before getting tagged. This can help improve their reaction time and decision-making skills.
  • Breaks the Ice: Hoedown Tag is a fun and engaging icebreaker game that can help break the ice between players who may not know each other well.
  • Can Be Played Anywhere: Since no materials are needed, Hoedown Tag can be played almost anywhere, making it a convenient option for group games on-the-go.
  • Easy to Understand and Play: With simple rules and gameplay, Hoedown Tag is easy to understand and play, making it accessible to players of all ages and skill levels.
  • Encourages Competition: As players try to avoid being tagged or catch the runner, Hoedown Tag encourages a healthy level of competition that can be enjoyable for all participants.

Back to top

Skills built with Hoedown Tag

  • Running: Hoedown Tag requires players to run around and escape the tagger, which helps build endurance and speed over time.
  • Reaction Time: Players need to react quickly to avoid being tagged, improving their reflexes and response time.
  • Teamwork: Paired players must work together to avoid the tagger and find new runners, fostering collaboration and communication skills.
  • Decision Making: Runners have to make split-second decisions when choosing which player to link hands with, enhancing their ability to think on their feet.
  • Social Skills: Hoedown Tag can help players become more comfortable around new people by pairing them randomly and encouraging interaction.

Back to top

Why I like Hoedown Tag

As someone who enjoys bringing people together through fun and engaging activities, I find Hoedown Tag to be an excellent icebreaker game for several reasons.

Firstly, its simplicity makes it easy for anyone to understand and play, regardless of their age or physical abilities. The rules are straightforward, and the game requires no preparation or materials, which is a significant advantage when planning last-minute activities.

Secondly, Hoedown Tag encourages interaction and communication among players, making it an effective icebreaker. By pairing players randomly, the game creates opportunities for individuals to connect and work together, promoting a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

Additionally, I appreciate that Hoedown Tag is an active game that gets players moving and engaged. In today’s digital age, where many children and teens spend their free time glued to screens, it’s essential to provide opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. Hoedown Tag does just that by promoting movement, laughter, and connection in a fun and engaging way.

Finally, I like that Hoedown Tag can be played both indoors and outdoors, making it a versatile option for various settings and weather conditions. Whether in a gym, park, or backyard, this game is sure to bring joy and excitement to any group gathering.

Overall, Hoedown Tag’s simplicity, inclusivity, and promotion of social interaction and physical activity make it an ideal icebreaker game for medium to large groups of kids and teens aged 6 and above.

Back to top

Tips for making Hoedown Tag more inclusive

  • Tip: Use color-coded accessories. To make the game more inclusive for players who are visually impaired, provide each player with a colored bandana or armband to wear. This will help them identify their partners and avoid the tagger.
  • Tip: Offer modifications for physical limitations. For players with mobility issues, allow them to use a scooter or wheelchair during the game. They can still participate by being a tagger or linking hands with their partner.
  • Tip: Use verbal cues instead of hand signals. Instead of having players use hand signals to communicate with each other, encourage them to use verbal cues such as “tag” or “freeze.” This will help players who have hearing impairments participate in the game.
  • Tip: Allow for gender-neutral partners. To make the game more inclusive for all players, allow them to choose their own partners regardless of gender. Encourage players to mix and match pairs to create a diverse group of participants.
  • Tip: Use simple language and clear instructions. Make sure that all players understand the rules and objectives of the game. Use simple language and avoid jargon or complex terminology. Offer visual aids such as diagrams or videos to help explain the game.
  • Tip: Foster a supportive and positive environment. Encourage players to be respectful and kind to each other during the game. Make sure that all players feel included and valued, regardless of their skill level or physical abilities. Offer positive feedback and encouragement throughout the game to create a fun and engaging experience for everyone.

Back to top

Reflection questions for Hoedown Tag

  1. How did you feel playing as the tagger versus playing as an open player? This question can help participants reflect on their experiences in different roles and how those roles affected their emotions and actions during the game.
  2. What strategies did you use to avoid being tagged or to catch other players? By asking about strategies, facilitators can encourage participants to think critically about teamwork, communication, and problem-solving skills they employed during the game.
  3. Did you find it easier to link hands with a pair when you were closer or farther away from them? Why? This question can lead to discussions on spatial awareness and decision-making in fast-paced situations.
  4. How did playing Hoedown Tag help build connections between team members? This reflection question allows participants to consider the icebreaker’s impact on their relationships with others, fostering self-awareness and social sensitivity.
  5. Were there any moments when you felt particularly successful or proud during the game? If so, what were they? Encouraging participants to share their accomplishments can build confidence and create a positive group atmosphere.
  6. If you could change one thing about Hoedown Tag, what would it be and why? Asking for feedback on the game can provide valuable insights for facilitators and help improve future group activities.

Back to top


Want customized activity suggestions? Try our Team Building Expert GPT!

About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

Activities you may also like

Keep the fun going with these similar activities.

Ghost in the Graveyard

Ghost in the Graveyard

Spooky Nighttime Game of Hide and Seek: Ghost in the Graveyard!

Halloween Tag

Halloween Tag

Spooky Twist on a Classic Game: Halloween Tag Turns Kids into Zombies, Werewolves, and Mummies!