Best Game

Bang is one of the best youth group games I’ve come across – particularly for 10 to 12 year olds, but also for teenagers. It worked brilliantly in the size of hall mentioned below, with up to about 35 kids. I do not know where it came from, and can only imagine why it is called ‘Bang’. 
It has minimal rules and the purpose of the game is very clearly defined, two things essential for great games.
It was by far the most requested game in our club for 10 -12 year olds, though it needs to be played several times before new-comers really get the idea of it and start working out strategies.


A hall – we played in a hall approximately 11.5m x 11.5m. A bigger hall would change the dynamics of the game so adjustments would have to be made. Too much bigger and it might not even work. A larger hall would tend to slow the game down and make it more difficult for participants – they would have further to run to get the ball and further to throw to hit others. Both these things would mean the game may not work so well.

A watch which can measure seconds.

A whistle (may be substituted with something else that can make a loud sharp noise quickly).

A soft-touch vinyl volley ball (8.5 inch or 210mm). Soft-touch balls have a sponge interior and a soft rubber or vinyl exterior. We found this TYPE and SIZE of ball is absolutely critical to the game. The fact it was a soft ball means that even if it was thrown relatively hard, it didn’t hurt – even a hit in the face is not serious. A soft-touch ball is also easy to pick up, easy to throw and hold, and a 210mm ball has a limited speed.

A time keeper.

A game controller (referee).

The Hall set-up

The hall is set up so that down one side (or one end) is a non-playing area (an ‘out’ area, jail, or sin bin) about a metre wide – sufficient to hold everyone playing. We established it by using a full row (end to end of hall) of metal stacking 4 seat forms turned so the seat side faces the ‘out’ area – the back is to the play area. The hall actually had stacking forms down both sides when used for games, but we defined the ‘out area’ on one side only. 

The Game

The aim of the game is to be the last person ‘in’ at the final whistle blow.

The game proceeds in a series of short play periods.

The game begins with ALL players on the play area.

A play period begins when the referee, shouts, “GO!”, as he/she tosses the ball to a player so the ball touches the player.

A play period ends when the time keeper blows the whistle.

During a play period, when the ball touches a player (as at the start or at any time throughout the play period), it is ‘their ball’, meaning; they have to get the ball and make it touch another player before the whistle blows, or they are ‘out’. 

The last player the ball touches before the whistle blows is ‘out’.

At the end of each play period one player is always ‘out’,

The player who is ‘out’, goes straight off the playing area and into the ‘out’ area. They must get completely outside of the play area and into the defined ‘out’ area behind the barriers, otherwise it becomes confusing for those still in the game who have to make slit-second decisions about who to throw the ball at. They must clear the play area reasonably quickly. Only those who are ‘in’ must be on the play area.

The referee does not necessarily need to wait until the person ‘out’ has cleared the playing area before restarting play, so long as the player clears the play area within the first few seconds of play.

Another play period begins almost immediately a player is declared out, with the shout of “GO!” when a player who is ‘in’ has touched the ball.

Play must always start with a player having touched the ball. This ensures that the action occurs right from the start.

On the rare occasion when no player wants to pick the ball up to restart play, the referee will need to pick it up and give it to or throw it at a player. Once the ball has hit a player the referee then shouts “GO!”

The time keeper, on hearing the referee shout “GO”, begins timing the period of play for anything between 12 seconds and about 18 seconds. This was optimum in our size hall with about fifteen people playing. With numbers between about twenty and thirty, the play period needs to reduce to between about 6 to 12 seconds, otherwise the game can go too slow.  

When the determined time is up, the time keeper blows the whistle.

The play period must not be of a constant length otherwise those playing will begin to estimate when the whistle is going to blow and play to it. By varying the length of the play period, no player can guess when the whistle will blow.

We have tried two ways for the time keeper to keep time fairly.
1. The time keeper faces away from the game and so does not see the flow of play at all. Therefore they are not able to favour any player as the time period is coming to an end. They are in effect blind.
2. The time keeper determines in his/her mind the length in seconds of the play period before the play period begins, and then keeps strictly to that time when blowing the whistle. This way they can enjoy watching the game but still be impartial. 

It is absolutely imperative that the time keeper is impartial, otherwise the children can feel favouritism rules and so lose interest. The whistle MUST be blown at the pre-determined time irrespective of the flow of play.

The referee rules on who was the last person hit before the whistle blew. The referee must be scrupulously fair and consistent in their rulings. On rare occasions when the referee cannot be sure of who was hit, he/she can rule a replay with no one ‘out’. 

If the ball goes into the ‘out’ area and is held up for what ever reason by those who are already out, or if it goes out of the room through an open door (close all doors!!), or if the players who are already ‘out’ throw the ball back into the play area to the disadvantage of the last player hit, the referee without slowing the pace of the game, can tell the the time keeper to extend the play period by a few seconds to compensate. The referee may just say ‘Add time!’

As referee, I may call the name of the person hit so they are under no illusions that it is ‘their ball’. Mostly I don’t call a name but just ‘Hit’. If there is any doubt I may then call a name, or with eye contact say, ‘It’s yours’. Up to ten calls could be made in this way in a 15 second play period.

No intentional kicking of ball…at all! A person who does will be ruled ‘out’.

Some strategies for play.

Never throw the ball to another players hands, always to their legs or back etc, or in such a way that the ball bounces away, otherwise they can catch it and throw it straight back.

Get up close before throwing. A short throw is far harder to avoid than a long one.

Feint, to put the person who’s ball it is, off guard. When they are chasing it, pretend you are going to pick it up, and then don’t at the last moment. They will lose valuable micro-seconds! There are numerous ways to feint.

Hold the ball right up until the moment the whistle blow is anticipated before throwing at another player, leaving no time for them to get the ball and hit someone else. (This however is a very dangerous strategy as the play period may be short, and you may put yourself out through holding the ball at the whistle. It has happened numerous times and is most embarrassing for the player concerned!)

Never ever give up!!!!!! Go for the ball with all your might and speed as you do not know if the play period will be short or long.

Stand unobtrusively in a corner, and let others annihilate themselves. Before you know where you are you will be among the last left. (If a person is doing this, or hiding in some way, and as referee I notice, I sometimes point it out to the other players, so as to force those hiding into play)
The game is a great leveler. It is not always to the swift or the strong, or to the athletic ones. Often the show-offs get out because of their showing off.

Some things to avoid.

As a general rule, ‘ganging-up’ should not be allowed.  I would not stop the game for it, but I would appeal to the players not to do it as it spoils the atmosphere. 
‘Ganging up’ I have seen: boys against girls; one ethnic group against another; older ones against younger ones. Those in an ‘in group’ against a loner. 
This is not ‘a rule’ because some competition between people in the flow of play is quite acceptable. It is very hard to know for sure whether or not some action was ‘ganging-up’.

No branding – no throwing the ball really hard. Again this is not ‘a rule’ because it is impossible to be consistent in knowing how fast the ball is going.  We just appeal to the players not to brand. They know and we know, but it is impossible to rule on. But even if a soft ball is thrown really hard it is unlikely to hurt.