Several white flexi cones laid out on grass

Cone Relay

  • Great team game for all abilities and age groups
  • Works speed and agility and good for team competition
  • Ideal for groups of 6-20 runners
  • Works well in parks

Cone Relays are a really good way of accommodating groups where there is a large variation in fitness, since they can be set up so that each runner works according to their ability.


A set of flexi-cones. You'll need as many cones as the number of athletes.

Setting Up

Athletes are divided into two or more equal-sized teams of three, four or five members each. If the number of athletes does not divide equally into the desired number of teams, then one or more of the teams can have fewer members.

Create as many lines of cones as there are teams (e.g. if there are four teams, then create four lines of cones).

The number of cones in each line should be equal to the largest team size. Space the cones in each line evenly along an overall length of 50-100 meters.

You may find it useful to use different coloured cones for ease of reference when describing the activity. If you do this then it's best to have bands of colours by using the same colour cones at corresponding positions along all the lines.


Each team member in turn runs and collects the nearest cone and returns it to the team base (note that once the nearest cone has been retrieved the second-nearest cone becomes the nearest).

Play continues until all teams have collected all their cones. The winning team is the first to collect all their cones.

Relay positions can be decided by the group leader or by the teams themselves. By ensuring that the less able/runners collect the nearest cones and run first, you can ensure that nobody is made to feel self-conscious of a lack of speed/ability.

Group Size

Six players will yield two teams of three and 20 players will result in four teams of five or five teams of four, which is about the maximum for the game to work well. If the players are not easily divisible by the number of teams then one or more teams can have one member fewer and nominate somebody on the team to run twice.


Extra Legs

You can place two or more cones at each point so that each athlete has to run several times.

Real World Example

There is a group of 11 athletes and the session is taking place at an athletics track. Three runners are complete beginners, four are very experienced and the rest vary in ability.

Three lines of cones are set up over a length of 80 meters. In each line the first cone is placed at 20 meters, the second at 40 meters, the third at 60 meters and the final at 80 meters.

Players are put into three teams. Each team will include one of the new runners and one of the experienced runners. Two of the teams will have four members and the third will have only three. The team with only three members will also include the fourth experienced runner, who will be running twice to make up for the missing person.

Each team member is allocated a number which indicates their relay leg. The newcomers are allocated the first leg, so that they run the shortest possible distance, and the experienced runners are allocated the fourth leg, so that they run the furthest possible distance.

In the three-membered team one of the experienced runners is given leg three, and the other is given legs two and four, thereby granting them a short recovery between runs.

Teams line up in order at the starting point and wait for the command to begin.

First to run are the team members allocated number one. They run to the first cone 20 meters away, pick it up and run back with it to the start point. As soon as each player returns to the start point with their cone the second player from the team runs to and collects their cone (which will be the one at 40 meters). Runners three and four continue in a like manner, collecting the cones at 60 and 80 meters.

Despite fewer numbers the three-person team wins. To level the playing field their cones are placed slightly further apart for subsequent rounds.

The teams complete five rounds in all, with a 90-second recovery between each.


Have players change teams regularly so that everybody has a chance to be on a faster team.


Ensure the area is clear of other activities. Runners become much less aware when working hard and even more so when a competitive element is introduced to activities.

Remember to warm up before your session and cool down afterwards. Cone relays can involve very fast running and sudden changes of pace and direction so a good warm up is especially important.