Pole Push - How to play?

Pole Push Preparation

  1. You must first find a spruce or pine tree that is very straight and at least 6-8 meters long (20-22 feet) in length and 12 to 15 centimeters (4 to 5 inches) in diameter. It is important to remove all the bark off the tree and plane it down so it is smooth. The centre of the tree must be marked with paint and/or coloured ribbon.
  2. Trees Holding a tree Smoothing the treeBarks removing Final polishingMarking the tree
  3. At the both ends of the prepared Pole Push sand or grind the edges, so that it is smooth and does not cut into the athlete’s hands or arms.
  4. Grinding the edges
  5. The Pole Push is played outside on a relatively flat snow surface. Using bright orange or red spray paint, make a circle on the snow with a diameter of about 10-11 meters (30 feet).
  6. Push pole field
  7. At the center of this circle mark a “X” in the snow with the spray paint. This mark is used so the official can mark the center of the Pole Push.
  8. Marking X in the snow Official mark
  9. All players must have on gloves or mittens to prevent any hand injuries.
  10. For more information on gathering a tree for the Pole Push click here to see the project I often use with my classes.

The Pole Push Team

The team consists of 4 players per side. In my Physical Education classes I have had all boys’ teams, all girls’ teams and a mixed team of both girls and boys. The winner is determined when one of the teams pushes the center mark of the pole out of the circle. A match is the best two out of three games.

Let’s Play!

It is important to have the circle spray painted, the center of the circle marked with an “X” and the Pole Push laid in the circle (have the spray paint available throughout the games, as the painted circle deteriorates with each game). After you have decided on how your teams will be picked, two representatives from each team play “Paper, Scissors, Rock”, the winning player picks what end of the pole they want and the loser picks which side of the circle they would like to push from. The second game, teams switch ends and playing sides if necessary and if a third game is required, one person from each team plays “Paper, Scissors, Rock”, and the winner chooses what end they want and the other teams chooses what side they would like to push from. Prior to start, some players will kick holes in the ground for support and added footing. Each team then proceeds to grasp the pole at each end, with their hands and arms. The player at the end of the pole can grasp the end holding his/her hands over the end and facing the opposite direction from the other team. This is actually a very well balanced position and it enables him/her to lean all of his/her weight into the direction that his/her team is trying to push the pole.

Grasp the poleInterlinking the arms

Other players can interlink their arms together or just use their arms and hands to hold the pole. In these pictures arms are interlinked between players, beginning at the end of the pole. Some teams prefer this grip as it enables them to push together.

Interlinking AInterlinking BPushing technique APushing technique B

Other teams prefer the simpler technique of everyone finding their own grip technique and placing their body weight on the pole. This requires less team communication, however, it is sometimes difficult to keep a grip on the pole. In these pictures arms are interlinked between players, beginning at the end of the pole. Some teams prefer this grip as it enables them to push together. It does require communication and player cooperation.

Interlinking at the end of the pole AInterlinking at the end of the pole BTeam 1 vs. Team 2

During the match the pole cannot move above the shoulder, orbelow the wais. Players cannot walk to the right or left if they are being forced out of the circle. If this occurs, I will stop the game, warn the team committing the illegal procedure and if it occurs again, that team will lose that game of the match. To start the match (or game), the official lines up the center of the pole with the “X” marked in the snow. He then asks, “Team 1 are you ready, Team 2 are you ready, 3-2-1 push”. If during the competition players fall down, lose position or need to re-grip on the pole, provided that the center of the pole is not pushed out of their side of the circle, players are permitted to return to their feet, re-gain position or re-grip the pole. There is no time limit to this game.

View the movie clip.

Game Modification

In my Physical Education classes I use different pole sizes. At the Elementary levels I use a 4-5 meter (15 feet) pole to decrease the chances of injuries and this way the pole is much lighter than the larger one. As well, I will use a smaller circle for the students, approximately 6-7 meters (18-21 feet).

Lesson Planning

When you read through the lesson plans, please realize that you can create and change these plans to be suit your class development levels. As well it is very important and necessary to incorporate both stretching and strength exercise progressions in your lesson plans to foster a safe learning environment. I encourage you to construct your own unique lesson plans and modifications that make for a positive learning experience for your students. However, if you do incorporate the Dene Games into your classroom please share your experiences, in the Bannock and Tea Room, education is an opportunity to explore, let’s explore our Dene Games journey together.

Click here to see lesson plans.