A dog with a stick in its mouth


  • Works with groups of all abilities
  • Perfect for a bit of friendly competitiveness
  • Ideal for groups of 6-16 players
  • Good for parks with large open spaces

Fetch is basically a human version of the game you might play with your dog.


Tennis balls. You'll need one tennis ball for every two players.

Setting Up

Find an area with plenty of space in all directions. There'll need to be enough room to allow participants to throw tennis balls as hard as they can without hitting anything or anybody.

Arrange the players into pairs. The members of each pair will be competing against each other.


One member of each pair is given a tennis ball. Facing outwards from the center of the play area they throw their ball as far as they can.

Their partner/competitor must run and fetch the ball and return with it as quickly as possible. The order in which each player returns is noted.

Partners then swap roles. The fetchers become the throwers and the throwers become the fetchers. The fetcher's goal is to beat their partner's finish position.

The partner with the highest position is declared the winner of the pair.

There is an incentive for the thrower to throw as far as possible in order to try and cause their partner to finish behind other runners, and there is an incentive for the fetcher to retrieve as quickly as possible in order to finish ahead of other runners.

Group Size

Six players (i.e. three pairs) is about the minimum or the game feels a bit quiet. With many more than seven or eight pairs (i.e. 14-16 players overall) things can get crowded and tennis balls get mixed up.


Race 'n' Fetch

A single player is given multiple tennis balls and throws them in various directions and at various distances. All other players must retrieve as many tennis balls as possible. The winner is the person that returns the most balls.

Real World Example

There is a team of ten athletes and the session is taking place in a large park.

Players are organised randomly into five pairs and one player in each pair is given a tennis ball.

The run leader stands at a central point and arranges the pairs so they are all facing outwards from a central point.

After a quick check for hazards the run leader instructs the throwers to throw on the count of three. As soon as the balls are thrown the fetchers chase and retrieve them. The finish position of each fetcher is recorded in a notebook.

The fetchers hold on to the tennis balls and once again the pairs are arranged facing outwards from a central point. The fetchers become the throwers and the throwers become the fetchers. The run leader quickly checks for hazards then gives the go-ahead to throw and fetch. Finish positions are noted again.

The finish positions of the members in each pair are noted and the winners announced.

The players are then told to pair up with a different person and the activity repeats.

The run leader then takes all five tennis balls, adds another ten to the mix and throws them in random directions. All players run and fetch as many tennis balls as they can until all have been retrieved. The player who collects the most is declared the winner.


Variety can be introduced by throwing other implements such as beanbags or footballs. Just be sure that they are safe to throw.

With big groups, using balls of different colours will help players distinguish their ball from those of other teams.


Be sure there is no danger of hitting people, breakable objects, cars etc. when throwing the balls. Check for hazards before every throw.

Remember to warm up before your session and cool down afterwards.