Working with a youth group, you can find that there are all levels of athleticism, skill and experience when it comes to games and activities. In an effort to keep teens on the same playing field (pun maybe intended?) I try to use games that are different or strange, so as to limit the transferable skills and boost group participation. This is one such example. It’s great indoors or out, and has been something the kids enjoy playing as much as the more classic Ultimate Frisbee or Soccer.
Noodle hockey is just about what it sounds like – instead of sticks, everyone uses noodles. Instead of a puck, we use a beach ball or balloon (always beach ball if we are outside, grass will pop a balloon). I find this works well with teams of 5-8 in a smaller area, so if your group is very large, you can set up multiple “rinks” or play a tournament-style rotation. Indoors, we have no out-of-bounds, but outdoors, the team to last touch the ball before it goes out of bounce forfeits control to the other team, like Soccer. For goals, I have played two ways: first, you can have an end-zone and no goalie, and the team simply has to have the ball cross the line for a point. Or, you can designate a goal and have a goalie, though I like to have the goalie have to stand on a chair and reach down with the noodle to block shots to keep it interesting.
As with all sport-based games, this can get intense. Make sure it’s intense in a good way and that everyone is still having fun, because that’s what the game is all about. The youth already have a performance-based style of athletics in their life called gym class. This game should be about having fun, goofing off, working together and being active. Don’t let it become anything else, and you’ll love noodle hockey!