Tug of War Rules

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One of the most ancient of competitions, tug of war has comprised a way to settle disputes, prove strength and build teamwork for more than 4,000 years. The game became an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1920, and is now an event in the World Games. While the premise is simple -- two teams tugging on the end of a long rope -- a few simple rules ensure an even match.

Doing It Right

  • The tug of war rope needs to be long enough to accommodate eight competitors on each side, about 100 feet. The puller on each end is the anchor man, and he wraps the end of the rope around his waist and over the left shoulder. The center of the rope is marked in red and centered over a starting point. A mark 13 feet to each side of the starting point is where the first member of each team will stand, with the others spacing themselves along the rope. When the competition starts, players pull with a 40- to 45-degree body angle, taking care not to sit down or squat with their elbows below their knees. The team that pulls the other across their own starting line wins the match.

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  • Photo Credit Paul Sutherland/Photodisc/Getty Images
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