Chapter 9

Competitive Fitness Activities

Physical fitness is one of the foundations of combat readiness, and maintaining it must be an integral part of every soldier’s life. This chapter discusses competitive fitness activities and athletic events that commanders can use to add variety to a unit’s physical fitness program. There is also a section on developing a unit intramural program. Athletic and competitive fitness activities are sports events which should only be used to supplement the unit’s PT program. They should never replace physical training and conditioning sessions but, rather, should exist to give soldiers a chance for healthy competition. Only through consistent, systematic physical conditioning can the fitness components be developed and maintained.

Crucial to the success of any program is the presence and enthusiasm of the leaders who direct and participate in it. The creativity of the physical training planners also plays a large role. Competitive fitness and athletic activities must be challenging. They must be presented in the spirit of fair play and good competition.

It is generally accepted that competitive sports have a tremendous positive influence on the physical and emotional development of the participants. Sports competition can enhance a soldier’s combat readiness by promoting the development of coordination, agility, balance, and speed. Competitive fitness activities also help develop assets that are vital to combat effectiveness. These include team spirit, the will to win, confidence, toughness, aggressiveness, and teamwork.

Competitive fitness activities help in the development of assets that are vital to combat effectiveness.


The Army’s sports mission is to give all soldiers a chance to participate in sports activities. A unit-level intramural program can help achieve this important goal. DA Pam 28-6 describes how to organize various unit-level intramural programs.

Factors that affect the content of the sports program differ at every Army installation and unit. Initiative and ingenuity in planning are the most vital assets. They are encouraged in the conduct of every program.


A well-organized and executed intramural program yields the following:


The command level best suited to organize and administer a broad intramural program varies according to a unit’s situation. If the objective of maximum participation is to be achieved, organization should start at company level and then provide competition up through higher unit levels. Each command level should have its own program and support the next higher program level.

To successfully organize and conduct an intramural program, developers should consider the following factors and elements.


The unit commander should publish and endorse a directive giving authorization and guidance for a sports program. A detailed SOP should also be published.


Leaders at all levels of the intramural program should plan, organize, and supervise it. Appointments at all echelons should be made for at least one year to provide continuity. The commander must appoint a qualified person to be the director, regardless of the local situation, type, and size of the unit. The director must be a good organizer and administrator and must have time to do the job correctly. He should also have a sense of impartiality and some athletic experience.

Commanders should form an intramural sports council in units of battalion size or larger and should appoint members or require designated unit representatives. The council should meet at least once a month or as often as the situation requires. The council serves as an advisory body to the unit commander and intramural director. It gives guidance about the organization and conduct of the program.

Facilities and Equipment

Adequate facilities and equipment must be available. When facilities are limited, leaders must plan activities to ensure their maximum use. In all cases, activities must be planned to ensure the safety of participants and spectators.

Funds and Budget

Adequate funds are essential to successfully organize and operate a sports program. Therefore, beforehand, organizers must determine how much money is available to support it. To justify requests for funds they must prepare a budget in which they justify each sports activity separately. The budget must include special equipment, supplies, awards, pay for officials, and other items and services. Units can reduce many of their costs by being resourceful.


Commanders can stimulate units and soldiers to participate in competitive athletics by using an award system. One type is a point-award system where teams get points based on their win/loss records and/or final league standings. This reflects the unit’s standings in the overall intramural sports program. The recognition will help make units and individuals participate throughout the year. Trophies can then be given for overall performance and individual activities.

Commanders can stimulate soldiers to participate in competitive athletics by using an award system.


A successful program depends on sound plans and close coordination between the units involved. The intramural director should meet with subordinate commanders or a sports representative to determine what program of activities is compatible with the mission and training activities of each unit. Unless they resolve this issue, they may not get command support which, in turn, could result in forfeitures or lack of participation. The less-popular activities may not be supported because of a lack of interest.


Before the program is developed,leaders must study the training and availability situation at each unit level. They should include the following items in a survey to help them determine the scope of the program and to develop plans:


Once the evaluations have been made, the following functions should be performed:

Unit Activities

The following games and activities may be included in the unit’s PT program. They are large-scale activities which can combine many components of physical and motor fitness. In addition, they require quick thinking and the use of strategy. When played vigorously, they are excellent activities for adding variety to the program.


The object of this game is for of a team’s five goalies to have ball.


There are 25 to 50 players on each team, five of whom are goalies. The other players are divided into four equal groups. The goalies play between the goal line and 5-yard line of a standard football field. The other four groups start the game between the designated 10-yard segments of the field. (See Figure 9-3.) The goalies and all other players must stay in their assigned areas throughout the game. The only exceptions are midfielder who stand between the 35- and 45-yard lines. These players may occupy both their assigned areas and the 10-yard free space at the center of the field.

The Game

The game starts with all players inside their own areas and midfielder on their own 40-yard line. The nine balls are placed as follows. Four are on each 45-yard line with at least five yards between balls. One is centered on the 50-yard line. The signal to start play is one long whistle blast. Players must pass the balls through the opposing team’s defenses into the goal area using only their feet or heads. The first team whose goalies have five balls wins a point. The game then stops, and the balls are placed for the start of a new set. The first team to score five points wins.

There are no time-outs except in case of injury, which is signaled by two sharp whistle blasts. The teams change positions on the field after each set. Team members move to different zones after the set.


A ball is played along the ground or over any group or groups of players. The ball may travel any distance if it is played legally.

Goalies may use their hands in playing the ball and may give a ball to other goalies on their team. For a set to officially end, each goalie must have a ball.

If players engage in unnecessary roughness or dangerous play, the referee removes them from the game for the rest of the set and one additional set. He also removes players for the rest of the set if they step on or over a boundary or sideline or use their hands outside the goal area.

If a goalie steps on or over a boundary or sideline, the referee takes the ball being played plus another ball from the goalie’s team and gives these balls to the nearest opposing player. If the team has no other ball in the goal area, the referee limits the penalty to the ball that is being played.

If a ball goes out of bounds, the referee retrieves it. The team that caused it to go out of bounds or over the goal line loses possession. The referee puts the ball back into play by rolling it to the nearest opposing player.


This game requires a large pushball that is five to six feet in diameter. It also requires a level playing surface that is 240 to 300 feet long and 120 to 150 feet wide. The length of the field is divided equally by a center line. Two more lines are marked 15 feet from and parallel to the end lines and extending across the entire field. (See Figure 9-4.)


There are 10 to 50 soldiers on each of two teams.

The Game

The object of the game is to send the ball over the opponent’s goal line by pushing, rolling, passing, carrying, or using any method other than kicking the ball.

The game begins when the ball is placed on the centerline with the opposing captains three feet away from it. The other players line up 45 feet from the ball on their half of the field. At the referee’s starting whistle, the captains immediately play the ball, and their teams come to their aid.

At quarter time, the ball stays dead for two minutes where it was when the quarter ended. At halftime, the teams exchange goals, and play resumes as if the game were beginning.

A team scores a goal when it sends the ball across the opposing team’s end line. A goal counts five points. The team that scores a goal may then try for an extra point. For the extra point, the ball is placed on the opposing team’s 5-yard line, and the teams line up across the field separated by the width of the ball. Only one player may place his hands on the ball. The player who just scored is directly in front of the ball. At the referee’s signal, the ball is put into play for one minute. If any part of the ball is driven across the goal line in this period, the offense scores one point. The defense may not score during the extra point attempt.

The game continues until four 10-minute quarters have been played. Rest periods are allowed for two minutes between quarters and five minutes at halftime.


Players may use any means of interfering with the opponents’ progress except striking and clipping. Clipping is throwing one’s body across the back of an opponent’s legs as he is running or standing. Force may legally be applied to all opponents whether they are playing the ball or not. A player who strikes or clips an opponent is removed from the game, and his team is penalized half the distance to its goal.

When any part of the ball goes out of bounds, it is dead. The teams line up at right angles to the sidelines. They should be six feet apart at the point where the ball went out. The referee tosses the ball between the teams.

When, for any reason, the ball is tied up in one spot for more than 10 seconds, the referee declares it dead. He returns the ball into play the same way he does after it goes out of bounds.


Strategy pushball is similar to push-ball except that it is played on two adjacent fields, and opposing teams supply soldiers to the games on both fields. Team commanders assess the situation on the fields and distribute their soldiers accordingly. The commander decides the number of soldiers used, within limits imposed by the rules. This number may be adjusted throughout the game. Play on both fields occurs at the same time, but each game progresses independently. At the end of play, a team’s points from both fields are added together to determine the overall winner.

This game requires two pushballs that are five to six feet in diameter. Pull-over vests or jerseys of two different colors are used by each team for a total of four different colors. Starters and reserves should be easily distinguishable. Starters and substitutes should wear vests of one color, while the team commander and reserves wear vests of the second color.

Players may wear any type of athletic shoes except those with metal cleats. Combat boots may be worn, but extra caution must be used to prevent injuries caused by kicking or stepping on other players. Soldiers wearing illegal equipment may not play until the problem has been corrected.

The playing area is two lined-off fields. These are 240 to 300 feet long by 120 to 150 feet wide. They are separated lengthwise by a 20-foot-wide divider strip. The length of each field is divided equally by a centerline that is parallel to the goal lines. Lines are also marked 45 feet from each side of the centerline and parallel to it. The lines extend across both fields. Dimensions may be determined locally based on available space and the number of players. The space between the fields is the team area. Each team occupies the third of the team space that immediately adjoins its initial playing field.

Time periods should be adjusted to suit weather conditions and soldiers’ fitness levels.


There are 25 to 40 soldiers on each team. A typical, 25-member team has the following:

The proportion of soldiers in each category stays constant regardless of the total number on a team. Before the event, game organizers must coordinate with participating units and agree on the number on each team.

Runners serve at least one period; they may not play during that period. They are allowed on the field only during breaks in play after a dead ball or goal.

Reserves are used at any point in the game on either field and are committed as individuals or groups. They may enter or leave the playing field at any time whether the ball is in play or not. Team commanders may enter the game as reserves if they see the need for such action.

Reserves, substitutes, and starting members may be redesignated into any of the other components on a one-for-one basis only during dead balls, injury time-outs, or quarter- and half-time breaks. A reserve may become a starter by switching vests with an original starter, who then becomes a reserve.

When possible, senior NCOs and officers from higher headquarters or other units should be used as officials. Players must not question an official’s authority during play. Otherwise, the game can quickly get out of control.

Chain-of-command personnel should act as team commanders and field captains whenever possible.

The Game

The object is to propel the ball over the opponent’s goal line by pushing, rolling, passing, carrying, or using any means other than kicking.

The game is officiated by two referees on each field, a chief umpire, and a scorekeeper. Referees concentrate on player actions so that they can quickly detect fouls and assess penalties. The chief umpire and score-keeper occupy any area where they can best officiate the games. The chief umpire monitors the use of substitutes and reserves and ensures smooth progress of the games on both fields. The number of officials may be increased if teams have more than 25 players. Referees use their whistles to stop and start play except at the start and end of each quarter. The scorekeeper, who times the game with a stopwatch, starts and ends each quarter and stops play for injuries with some noisemaker other than a whistle. He may use such devices as a starter’s pistol, klaxon, or air horn.

The game begins after the ball is placed on each field’s center mark. Opposing field captains are three feet from the ball (six feet from the center-line). The rest of the starters are lined up 45 feet from the ball on their half of the field. (See Figure 9-5.) At the scorekeeper’s signal, field captains immediately play the ball, and their teams come to their aid.

Starters may be exchanged between the fields if the minimum number of starters or substitutes per field is maintained.

Substitutes may enter the game only during breaks in play after a dead ball, goal, or time-out for injury. A substitute may not start to play until the player being replaced leaves the field.

When any part of the ball goes out of bounds, it is dead. The teams line up at right angles to the sidelines; they are 10 feet apart at the point where the ball went out of bounds. The referee places the ball between the teams at a point 15 feet inside the sideline. Play resumes when the referee blows the whistle.

When the ball gets tied up in one spot for more than 10 seconds for any reason, the referee declares it dead. He restarts play as with an out-of-bounds dead ball, except that he puts the ball on the spot where it was stopped.

Time does not stop for dead balls or goals. Play continues on one field while dead balls are restarted on the other.

At each quarter break, the ball stays on the spot where it was when the quarter ended. The next quarter, signaled by the scorekeeper, starts as it does after a ball goes out of bounds. At halftime the teams exchange goals, and play resumes as if the game were beginning.

A goal is scored when any part of the ball breaks the plane of the goal line between the sidelines. A goal counts one point. At the end of the fourth quarter, the points of each team from both fields are added together to determine the winner.

If there is a tie, a three-minute overtime is played. It is played the same as in regulation play, but only one field is used, with starting squads from both teams opposing each other. For control purposes, no more than 15 players per team are allowed on the field at once. The team with more points at the end of the overtime wins the game. If the game is still tied when time expires, the winner is the team that has gained more territory.

The game continues until four 10-minute quarters have been played. There is a 10-minute halftime between the second and third quarters. The clock stops at quarter breaks and halftime. Time-out is allowed only for serious injury. Play is then stopped on both fields.


Players may use any means of interfering with their opponents’ progress, but they are penalized for striking or clipping opponents or throwing them to the ground. These penalties are enforced by the referees. Force maybe legally applied to any opponent whether or not they are playing the ball. Blocking is allowed if blockers stay on their feet and limit contact to the space between waist and shoulders. Blockers may not swing, throw, or flip their elbows or forearms. Tackling opposing soldiers who are playing the ball is allowed. The chief umpire or any referee may call infractions and impose penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct or personal fouls on either field. Penalties may also be called for infractions committed on the field or sidelines during playing time, quarter-and halftime breaks, and time-outs. Personal fouls are called for the following:

Unsportsmanlike conduct is called for abusive or insulting language that the referee judges to be excessive and blatant. It is also called against a player on the sidelines who interferes with the ball or with his opponents on the field. A player who violates these rules should be removed from the game and made to run one lap around both playing fields. A penalized player leaves the team shorthanded until he completes the penalty lap and the next break in play occurs on the field from which he was removed. The penalized player or a substitute then enters the game. Referees and the chief umpire may, at their discretion, eject any player who is a chronic violator or who is judged to be dangerous to other players, Once ejected, the player must leave both the field of play and team area. Substitutes for ejected players may enter during the next break in play that follows a goal scored by either team. They enter on the field from which the players were ejected.


This game is played on ice or a frozen field using hockey rules. Players wear boots with normal soles and carry broom-shaped sticks with which they hit the ball into the goals.

The object of this game is for teams to score goals through the opponent’s defenses. Using only brooms, players pass the ball through the opposing team to reach its goal. The first team to score five points wins. Broom ball provides a good cardiorespiratory work-out.


There are 15 to 20 players on each team. One is a goalie and the others are divided into three equal groups. The goalie plays in the goal area of a standard soccer or hockey field or along the goal line if the two opposing goals are the same size. One soccer ball, or some other type of inflated ball, is used. The players need no padding.

The three groups begin the game in center field. All players must stay in their designated space throughout the game. A diagram of the field is shown at Figure 9-6.

The Game

The face-off marks the start of the game, the second half, and the restart of play after goals. Each half lasts 15 minutes. For the face-off, each player is on his own half of the field. All players, except the two centers, are outside the center circle. The referee places the ball in the center of the circle between the two centers. The signal to begin play is one long blast on the whistle. The ball must travel forward and cross the center circle before being played by another player. There are no time-outs except for injury. The time-out signal is two sharp whistle blasts.


All players, including goalies, must stay inside their legal boundaries at all times. Only goalies may use their hands to play the ball, but they must always keep control of their sticks. Other players must stay in their respective zones of play (Attack, Defense, centerfield). The ball is played along the ground or over one or more groups of players. It may travel any distance as long as it is legally played.

The referee calls infractions and imposes penalties. Basic penalties are those called for the following:


Orienteering is a competitive form of land navigation. It combines map reading, compass use, and terrain study with strategy, competition, and exercise. This makes it an excellent activity for any training schedule.

Orienteering combines map reading, compass use, and terrain study with strategy, competition, and exercise.

An orienteering course is set up by placing control points or marker signs over a variety of terrain. The orienteer or navigator uses a detailed topographical map and a compass to negotiate the course. The map should be 1:25,000 scale or larger. A liquid-filled orienteering compass works best. The base of the compass is transparent plastic, and it gives accurate readings on the run. The standard military, lensatic compass will work even though it is not specifically designed for the sport.

The best terrain for an orienteering course is woodland that offers varied terrain. Several different courses can be setup in an area 2,000 to 4,000 yards square. Courses can be short and simple for training beginners or longer and more difficult to challenge the advanced competitors.

The various types of orienteering are described below.


This popular type of orienteering is used in all international and championship events. Participants navigate to a set number of check or control points in a designated order. Speed is important since the winner is the one who reaches all the control points in the right order and returns to the finish area in the least time.


Quick thinking and strategy are major factors in score orienteering. A competitor selects the check-points to find based on point value and location. Point values throughout the course are high or low depending on how hard the markers are to reach. Whoever collects the most points within a designated time is the winner. Points are deducted for returning late to the finish area.


Line orienteering is excellent for training new orienteers. The route is premarked on the map, but check-points are not shown. The navigator tries to walk or run the exact map route. While negotiating the course, he looks for checkpoints or control-marker signs. The winner is determined by the time taken to run the course and the accuracy of marking the control points when they are found.


This variation is also excellent for beginners. The navigator follows a route that is clearly marked with signs or streamers. While negotiating the course, he records on the map the route being taken. Speed and accuracy of marking the route determine the winner.


Competitors in this event carry flashlights and navigate with map and compass. The night course for cross-country orienteering is usually shorter than the day course. Control points are marked with reflective material or dim lights. Open, rolling terrain, which is poor for day courses, is much more challenging at night.


Urban orienteering is very similar to traditional types, but a compass, topographical map, and navigation skills are not needed. A course can be set up on any installation by using a map of the main post or cantonment area. Soldiers run within this area looking for coded location markers, which are numbered and marked on the map before the start. This eliminates the need for a compass. Soldiers only need a combination map-scorecard, a watch, and a pencil. (Figure 9-7 shows a sample scorecard.)

Urban orienteering adds variety and competition to a unit’s PT program and is well suited for an intramural program. It also provides a good cardiovascular workout.

Participants and Rules

Urban orienteering is conducted during daylight hours to ensure safety and make the identification of check-point markers easy. Soldiers form two-man teams based on their APFT 2-mile-run times. Team members should have similar running ability. A handicap is given to slower teams. (See Figure 9-8.) At the assembly area, each team gets identical maps that show the location of markers on the course. Location markers are color-coded on the map based on their point value. The markers farthest from the assembly area have the highest point values. The maps are labeled with a location number corresponding to the location marker on the course. A time limit is given, and teams finishing late are penalized. Five points are deducted for each minute a team is late. While on the course, team members must stay together and not separate to get two markers at once. A team that separates is disqualified. Any number of soldiers may participate, the limiting factors being space and the number of points on the course.

Playing the Game

Once the soldiers have been assigned a partner, the orienteering marshal briefs them on the rules and objectives of the game. He gives them their time limitations and a reminder about the overtime penalty. He also gives each team a combination map/ scorecard with a two-digit number on it to identify their team. When a team reaches a location marker, it records on the scorecard the letters that correspond to its two-digit number.

Point values of each location marker are also annotated on the scorecard. When the orienteering marshal signals the start of the event, all competitors leave the assembly area at the same time. One to two hours is the optimal time for conducting the activity. A sample location marker is shown at Figure 9-9.

For this example, team number 54 found the marker. The letters corresponding to 54 are LD, so they place “LD” on line 39 of their scorecard. This line number corresponds to the location’s marker number. When the location marker code is deciphered, the team moves on to the next marker of its choice. Each team goes to as many markers as possible within the allotted time. After all teams have found as many location markers as possible and have turned in their map/ scorecards, the points are computed by the orienteering marshal to determine the teams’ standings. He has the key to all the points and can determine each team’s accuracy. Handicap points are then added. Each soldier gets points if his 2-mile-run time is slower than 12 minutes. (See Figure 9-8.) The teams’ standings are displayed shortly after the activity ends.

Safety Briefing

The orienteering marshal gives a safety briefing before the event starts. He reminds soldiers to be cautious while running across streets and to emphasize that team members should always stay together.

Set Up and Materials

The course must be well thought out and set up in advance. Setting up requires some man-hours, but the course can be used many times. The major tasks are making and installing location markers and preparing map/scorecard combinations. Once the location marker numbers are marked and color coded on the maps, they are covered with combat acetate to keep them useful for a long time. Combat acetate (also called plastic sheet) can be purchased in the self-service supply center store under stock number 9330-00-618-7214.

The course organizer must decide how many location markers to make and where to put them. He should use creativity to add excitement to the course. Suggestions for locations to put point markers are as follows: at intersections, along roads in the tree line, on building corners, and along creek beds and trails. They should not be too hard to find. To help teams negotiate the course, all maps must be precisely marked to correspond with the placement of the course-location markers.

Unit Olympics

The unit olympics is a multifaceted event that can be tailored to any unit to provide athletic participation for all soldiers. The objective is to incorporate into a team-level competition athletic. events that represent all five fitness components. The competition can be within a unit or between competing units. When conducted with enthusiasm, it promotes team spirit and provides a good workout. It is a good diversion from the regular PT session.

Unit olympics incorporate athletic events that represent all five fitness components.

A unit olympics, if well promoted from the top and well staged by the project NCO or officer, can be a good precursor to an SDT or the EIB test.


The olympics should include events that challenge the soldiers’ muscular strength and endurance, aerobic endurance, flexibility, agility, speed, and related sports skills.

Events can be held for both individuals and teams, and they should be designed so that both male and female soldiers can take part. Each soldier should be required to do a minimum number of events. Teams should wear a distinctively marked item such as a T-shirt or arm band. This adds character to the event and sets teams apart from each other. A warm-up should precede and a cool-down should follow the events.

The following are examples of athletic events that could be included in a unit olympics:

Push-Up Derby

This is a timed event using four-member teams. The objective is for the team to do as many correct push-ups as possible within a four-minute time limit. Only one team member does push-ups at a time. The four team members may rotate as often as desired.

Sandbag Relay

This event uses four-man teams for a running relay around a quarter-mile track carrying sandbags. One player from each team lines up at the starting line with a full sandbag ineach hand. He hands the sandbags off to a teammate when he finishes his part of the race. This continues until the last team player crosses the finish line. Placings are determined by the teams’ order of finish.

Team Flexibility

In this event, if teams are numerically equal, all members of each team should participate. If not, as many team members should participate as possible. Each team’s anchor person places his foot against a wall or a curb. He stretches his other foot as far away as possible as in doing a split. The next team member puts one foot against the anchor man’s extended foot and does a split-stretch. This goes on until all team members are stretched. They cover as much distance as possible keeping in contact with each other. The team that stretches farthest from the start point without a break in their chain is the winner.

Medicine-Ball Throw

This event uses four-member teams. The teams begin by throwing the ball from the same starting line. When it lands, the ball is marked for each team thrower, and the next team player throws from this spot. This is repeated until all the team’s players have thrown. The team whose combined throws cover the most distance is the winner.

Job-Related Events

The organizer should use his imagination when planning activities. He may incorporate soldier skills required of an MOS. For instance, he could devise a timed land-navigation event geared toward soldiers with an MOS of 11C. The team would carry an 81-mm mortar (tube, tripod, and baseplate) to three different locations, each a mile apart, and set it up in a firing configuration. This type of event is excellent for fine-tuning job skills and is also physically challenging.


The commander, ranking person, or ceremony host gives an inspirational speech before the opening ceremonies, welcoming competitors and wishing them good luck. The olympics is officially opened with a torch lighting. This is followed by a short symbolic parade of all the teams. The teams are then put back into formation, and team captains lead motivating chants. The master of ceremonies (MC) announces the sequence of events and rules for each event. The games then begin.


The MC should have one assistant per team who will judge that one team during each event. Assistants give input on events that need a numerical count. The MC monitors the point accumulation of each team. Points are awarded for each event as follows:

When two teams tie an event, the points are added together and split equally between them. After the competition ends, the totaled point scores for each team are figured. The first- through fourth-place teams are then recognized.