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A group of young players aged four to six run around on a grass pitch playing tag.

Play Phase session: tag

Looking for an activity for 4–6-year-olds? Try tag. It's a game most children know. And you can play it in lots of different ways.

Tag is a great game for our youngest players, it helps them:  

  • develop fundamental football movement skills  
  • make decisions linked to attacking and defending skills and principles
  • become aware of their positioning and the space around them. 

If you like this idea, download the session cards and give it a go. And don’t forget to share your experience on the England Football Community. We’d love to know how you got on.



Setting up for tag is easy. All you need is a group of players and some brightly coloured cones to mark out an area for the game. 

How does it work? 

One player tries to tag another as they move around a defined area. 

The 'tagger' could be one player, perhaps even a team. It could even be everyone. It's your call. 

The players usually tag each other by touch. But it could be by stealing a ribbon, running a circle around the player or tackling away their football. Again, it's up to you.

When a player is tagged, there are loads of options, too. They could:  

  • perform an action to release themselves  
  • become the 'tagger' or join the tagging team 
  • become frozen until they are untagged by a teammate. 

The game can finish when the last player is tagged or even when every player has been 'untagged'. You could alternatively play for a fixed time. The players will let you know when they're fed up.

Magic tag

There are endless possibilities to take tag somewhere new. Why not try magic tag? 

One child is the great wizard. They can have a pretend wand or use their finger. 

The great wizard runs after the other players. When they get close, they tag them by touching their shoulder or back with the magic wand. 

The great wizard could also shout out a spell when they tag. Like “abracadabra”, “hocus pocus” “shazam” or anything the children make up. 

When a child has been tagged, they freeze. All the children keep running until there is just one left unfrozen, and they are the champion. 

Allow the frozen players to unfreeze themselves by performing an action that you or they decide. Or, unfrozen players could free them by casting a spell. 

Let the children suggest ways to freeze and unfreeze players. They're great at coming up with ideas. 

Where can you take the game?

You can mix up a tag game in many ways. Why not try:  

  • mixing it up by changing the size and shape of the area 
  • making the game directional – players try to move from one place to another without being tagged
  • having safe zones where players can't be tagged but must do something else. 

And remember STEP. Amend the space, task, equipment and players to make the game work for everyone. 

More ideas for the game

While you are with the children, we want them to experience different ways of playing.   

Imaginative play – add a little imagination: 

The great wizard might be trying to free a prince or princess locked in a tower. 

Object play – introduce equipment: 

Children have a wizard's cape (use a bib) tucked into their waistband. The tagger must take it to tag them. 

Social play – bring everyone together:

Encourage children to release as many friends as possible or tag everyone as fast as possible. 

Physical play – get more physical: 

Each child has a ball. If tagged, they pick up the ball, drop it onto one knee and catch it. 

Want to get more from the game? Use our idea generator to increase the returns for your players.