Having a Ball!

by Chris Chapan

A Fun Parachute Play Alternative!

Children of all ages enjoy this fun and active game involved in parachute play. This series of games is great both indoor and outdoors and can be played with a variety of ages and athletic abilities. Get your chute and get ready to have a ball!

A warm up is essential for any aerobic activity. Since using the parachute is primarily an upper body activity, the following routine that gets you ready to play.


Upper Body

1.Arm Circles ( Muscles Targeted: Biceps brachii, Triceps brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis, Anterior, and Posterior Deltoid)

Circle the arms ten times forward and ten times back.

2. Alternate Biceps (Muscles Targeted: brachii, Triceps brachii, Brachialis, Brachioradialis)

Ten times on the left and the right.

3. Wrist curls (Muscles Targeted: Wrist flexors and Wrist extensors)

Ten times each.

Lower Body

4. Hop, skip, squat, and jump (Muscles Targeted: Biceps Femoris long and short heads, Semitendinosus, and Semimembranosus.

Do each action for a minimum of five seconds each.

The warm-up portion of the activity is also good for cooling down.

Parachute Tips

When you are introducing the parachute, the following terms are essential. Have the students follow what you have modeled and try it for themselves. You only have to introduce terms that you will be using for the games that you plan to play. Loco motor movements of the lower body— skipping, walking, hopping, running, jumping, galloping, and leaping skipping, walking, hopping, running, jumping, galloping, and leaping —are also important. Directions such as forward, backward, sideways, up, down, clockwise, counter-clockwise, left and right hand, high, and low are helpful to teach students when using the parachute.

Teach the following grips for using the parachute—palms facing down, underhand with palms facing up, and the crossover grips with the
right hand over left hand with both palms down. This crossover grip can be done with an overhand and underhand grip. Movement and speed terms include emphasizing fast, slow, accelerating, decelerating, light, and heavy. Clearly explain and model both upper and lower body movements.

Most of these chute games can be played with different kinds of balls—whiffle balls, foam balls, balloons, beanbags, footballs, beach balls, and even a stability ball. Different sized balls will change the way in which the game goes, so feel free to experiment.

Directional Skill Games

Rock n- Roll

This game is played with a large beach ball. Place the ball in the middle of the chute and by pulling up and down; throw the ball as high in the air as possible. See how long the students can keep the ball on the parachute.

Competitive Rock n- Roll

Have children start with a crossover underhand grip. Mark an imaginary line across the diameter of the chute. Have equal teams hold the edge of the chute on either side. Throw a ball into the middle. The aim is to get the ball off the chute on the other team's side of the line, and stop it from coming off on your own side of the line.

Popcorn Popper

Start with everybody holding the chute stretched out. Throw as many soft balls as you can find on to the chute. Then see how quickly you can bounce them off with out letting go of the chute. For a variation of this game, try small sponges, balloons, or beanbags. Hypothesize which balls come off the chute first and why.

Bouncing Ball Buddies

Place two or three children under the chute. The children under the chute have try to push off the balls while every one else tries to keep them bouncing on the chute.

Roll and Flow

Have children start with an overhand grip. Everyone holds the chute taut. Place a large ball near the edge. Try to make the ball roll around the edge of the chute. To do this, one student starts the ball rolling. As it comes towards the student, lower the edge you are holding, and as it goes past the student raises the edge. When all the players do this in synchronization, it creates a kind of wave around the edge of the chute, which pushes the ball in a smooth steady circle.

Save the Canoe

A ball is placed on the parachute, representing a canoe. Players wave the chute so that it ripples. Encourage the waves to be ones that will allow the ball to not fall off the edge of the chute. Students try to get their canoe to safety as soon as possible through the hole in the center of the parachute. For a variation of this game try to use an overhand, underhand, and crossover grips.

Sports Ball Games

Volley Ball Adventure

Divide the class in half down the middle of the parachute. With a soft, medium-sized balloon on the parachute, have students try to flip the balls onto the other team's side. Some adaptations include having the students hold the parachute in various handgrips.

Goofy Golf

Toss the ball on the chute. Begin waving the chute, trying to maneuver the ball through the hole. When the ball is sunk, name someone to go under the chute, get the ball, and toss it back on the chute. See how many strokes it takes to get the ball in the hole. Have the children count aloud as they wave the chute.

Fun Ball Games

Sink the Colored Ball

Put balls of different colors on the chute. Call out one color. Have the children work together to sink that ball down the hole. After that ball has been sunk, call out the color of the second ball and try to sink it.

Sliding and Gliding

Grasp the edge of the parachute with an underhand grip. Place one ball on the parachute. Make the ball slide around the chute by slowly raising the chute up and down. Keep the ball rolling so that it does not go off the edge.

Surfing U.S.A.

Place a large ball on top of a flat chute and roll it around the edge. Players should lift the parachute just after the ball passes by. Timing is important. If someone lifts up a section of the parachute too soon, the ball slows down and stops. If someone lifts a section too late, the ball either runs into the player or off the chute. Test and hypothesize with various sizes of balls. Discuss which ones come off first and why.


Have the children stand around the bunched-up chute and pick it up with a thumbs-up grip. Show the children one balloon. Set the balloon on the chute. Have the children slowly walk outwards keeping the balloon on the chute, until is completely stretched out. Put several more balloons on the chute. Gently wave the chute. What happens when the chute is loose, taunt, and balloons are put in the air light, medium, and hard? For a variation of this game, try different hand positions and grips.


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Workouts That Work
September 11, 2001