wikiHow to Play Tag

Three Parts:Setting Up the GamePlaying TagPlaying Variations

Tag is a simple and classic game that is played all over the world. In some places, it is known as "stuck-in-the-mud," "catch-and-catch," or "you're it." The game is mostly enjoyed by children, but adults can play, too! Read on to learn how to play tag.

Part 1
Setting Up the Game

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    Understand the flow of the game. One person is "it," and his/her job is to touch someone else. When you are touched by the person who is "it," you immediately become "it." Now, it's your job to tag someone else. The game usually continues until everyone decides to stop, or until a predetermined number of people have become "it."
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    Decide who is "it." This person will chase the other players, trying to tag them, until he/she tags someone. Then, the tagged person becomes "it," and the original "it" person runs away to avoid being tagged. Many of the players will get a turn at being "it". To quickly decide who is "it" first, just say "Who is it?" or volunteer to do it yourself. The person should say "I am it," and everyone should know who is "it."[1]
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    Choose the playing area. Set boundaries so that the "not-it" players can't run too far away. The smaller the space, the harder it will be to avoid the person who is "it." Pick a place that is easy to run on, but forgiving to fall on – grass and sand are good surfaces.
    • On a playground, for example: agree to only stay on the gravel and blacktop during the game. The grass and sidewalk are not part of the play area.
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    Decide on a "safe zone" as a group. It might be one of the slides on the playground, or a tree, or a bench, or a space marked out with cones. When you touch this area, you are safe from being "tagged".
    • To keep the game going, consider setting a time limit for long someone can stay in the "safe zone." For example, a person might have to leave after ten seconds, or thirty seconds – long enough that the person who is "it" will go off to tag someone else, but not long enough that the game stagnates.[2]
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    Count out a head start for running. The "it" person counts out a ten-second head start to give the "not-it" players time to run away. At the end of ten seconds, the "it" player yells "Go!" or "Ready or not, here I come!" He/she can then start chasing the others, trying to tag them. Everyone who is "not it" will run away from the person who is "it" and try to avoid getting tagged. If the person who is "it" gets close to you, try to run to the "safe zone."

Part 2
Playing Tag

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    Tag someone. The "it" player tries to touch another player in order to make them "it." The tag should be light enough not to hurt anyone, but firm enough that it is a clear tag – like a tap or touch on your body. Once the "it" player succeeds in tagging someone, the tagged player is now "it". As the tagged player: yell loud enough for everyone to hear that you are now "it". Now it is your turn to chase your friends and try to tag them!
    • A tag should never be physically aggressive. If someone is pushing or hurting other players, stop the game and remove the offending player. Make sure they know what they did wrong.
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    Keep going. Once a person has been tagged, continue the game with the new "it" player trying to tag someone. The game continues in this way for as long as you want to keep playing.
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    Stop the game when everyone is done playing. When the game stops, the person who is "it" loses. There is no set rule on when to end. However, it is a good idea to set a time limit before players become exhausted or disinterested in continuing the game. Oftentimes, the players will all mutually agree to end the game when enough people don't feel like playing anymore.[3]
    • If you are orchestrating a game of tag: the younger the players, the shorter the game should be.

Part 3
Playing Variations

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    Play hide and go seek tag. The game begins in the same way as regular tag, except that all of the "not-it" players have time to go hide. The person who is "it" usually counts for longer than normal tag: as much as twenty seconds to a minute. Once "it" calls "Ready or not, here I come!", the "not-it" players try to run to the "safe zone" without being tagged by "it." If you are hiding, you can wait to be found, or you can take off running for the base while the "it' person tries to find another player.[4]
    • The counting player also covers his/her eyes to avoid seeing where everyone has hidden. Don't peek!
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    Try playing freeze tag. The setup is the same as regular tag, except for one major difference: when a player is tagged, he or she cannot move. If any of the other, unfrozen, "not-it" players touch a frozen player, he/she is unfrozen and can keep running around. The game ends once all of the "not-it" players are frozen, or once everyone agrees to stop playing.[5]
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    Consider playing toilet tag. This is a variation of freeze tag. Instead of simply standing in place, the tagged players need to squat with their arm out, as though they are a toilet and their arm is the flusher. To unfreeze these players, push their arm down gently like you're flushing a toilet.


  • Don't play in a wet or rocky area.
  • Be careful not to trip over or bump into others while playing.
  • Stay in a safe area.
  • Watch out for dogs trying to join in a game of tag; if they get too excited they might trip over the players or bite at them.

Things You'll Need

  • Friends or family

Article Info

Categories: Tag and Chasing Games