How to Play Sharks and Minnows

Sharks and minnows is a popular children’s outdoor game played by kids aged 2-12. Sharks and minnows have many variations, but the basic idea of this outdoor game is to reach the other end without being caught or tagged by the “shark.” In essence, most variations require the “minnows” to avoid getting caught by the child who’s acting as the shark. It is an easy game, so children of all ages can easily play it and have fun.

In this article, we’ll be looking at a number of ways you can play the classic children’s game sharks and minnows. Although there are different ways to play it, and as we mentioned before, the idea remains the same. However, where you play the game, the rules of the game and the duration might be different in varying ways the game is played. Check out some of the ways you can play sharks and minnows.

Playing Sharks and Minnows in a Field

This is probably the simplest version of how sharks and minnows are played. In this way of playing the game, there are two categories of players. One side acts as the shark, while the other side has to play the game as minnows. Typically, there is only one shark in this version of the game. However, you can have more sharks if the number of minnows is large. Who gets to be the shark and who gets to play as minnows are often decided with the help of a toss.

In the mid of the field or the playground, the child playing with the shark stands. The shark stands in such a position that he is able to catch or just touch the minnows going towards the other end of the playground. The minnows have to run towards the other end of the field without being caught or tagged by the shark. The shark acts as the offense, while the minnows act as the defense.

Whenever a minnow is caught by the shark, it also turns into a shark. All the children must go back to the initial position again as minnows and have to come back again to reach the other end of the playground. As more and more minnows are caught, the number of sharks increases, and it becomes difficult for the minnows to reach the other end without being tagged. When there is only one minnow left against all the sharks, he becomes the winner.

The Pool Version of Sharks and Minnows

The pool version of sharks and minnows is a little different than the one you play in a field or a playground. Still, the idea remains the same; you have to prevent yourself from becoming a shark. The pool version of sharks and minnows is played by a pool. After doing the toss, the person who becomes the shark must go out of the pool to act as the attacker. The shark has to stand by the pool with his face on the other side and back on the poolside.

The other players acting as minnows must line up on one end of the pool. The target is to reach the opposite side of the pool. An additional rule in this version is that a category has to be picked.  For example, if the category “color” is chosen, each minnow must choose a color and keep it to themselves.

After taking a position, the shark will turn his back on the pool and shout an item from the category. For example, in the category of “color,” the shark will shout blue, green, yellow, etc. Whichever minnow had chosen the color that the shark shouted, they had to quietly move to the other side of the pool without the shark knowing. Since the shark is not looking at the pool, they must keep their ears open to sense any movement.

When the shark hears a minnow moving towards the other side, he has to catch the minnow before it reaches the other end of the pool. If the shark catches the minnows, they switch positions. In another variation of this, the shark goes back to its original position while the tagged minnow just observes the game till there is only one winner left. He wins when the last minnow crosses to the opposing side without letting the shark know.


Sharks and minnows is an interesting outdoor game for children. It can be helpful in increasing their sensory development, and best of all, it’s really fun to play! So, if you are looking for fun games to introduce your children to, sharks and minnows might be the best thing this summer!

About the author

Yumna Ahmad

An experienced content writer, photographer, and avid reader amazed by the sea world and its creatures. I am lettin people become fascinated with the ocean planet through my writings.