Relay races can be an effective element in a structured physical training programme for both soldiers and civilians. Although the basic principle of relay races is to run between two points, the variations are only limited by the imagination of the fitness instructor.


The aim of relay races is to

  1. Achieve a training effect by semi continuous physical activity;
  2. Encourage competitive spirit; and
  3. Add enjoyment to Physical Training.


The aim is achieved by making soldiers compete against each other in small teams. Each soldier is required to move, at speed, a number of times over a short distance.  The rest period should be limited and for best effect teams should be of four persons or less.


  • It can be conducted indoors or outdoors, and in limited space;
  • Does not take much time to benefit the soldiers;
  • Can be set up quickly; and
  • A high degree of competitiveness can be introduced.


There are two types of relay races, they are:

  1. Basic fitness relay races; and
  2. Combat fitness relay races.

Basic Fitness Relay Races

These are relays based around simple exercises that add fun to the relay race, usually with little or no equipment.  Listed below are some example relays:

  • Hopping.
  • Leap frog.
  • Under and over leapfrog.
  • Under and over stick.
  • Tunnel ball.
  • Dribble basketball, football or rugby ball.
  • Hockey dribble.

Combat Fitness Relay Races

These relays are related to the role of the soldiers when on operations. These relays are just as effective as basic fitness relay races and can also be used in conjunction with any new skills learnt by the soldiers. Listed below are some example relays:

  • Carrying ammunition boxes.
  • Leopard crawl.
  • Building a roadblock.
  • Carrying/filling sand bags.
  • Sprinting.
  • Crossing obstacles.
  • Loading/unloading a trailer.
  • Changing a vehicle wheel.
  • Strip/assemble a weapon.

Example of a Relay Race Lesson

Group: 28 soldiers

Area: Grass area 30 x 25metres

Dress: PT kit

Teams: 7 teams of 4 soldiers

Timings: 2mins, Form up, start of lesson drills

  • 10mins, Warm up
  • 2mins, Sprint relay
  • 2mins, Exercise relay
  • 2mins, Wheelbarrow
  • 2mins, Piggyback race
  • 2mins, Under and Over leapfrog
  • 4mins, Casualty relay
  • 6mins, Medley relay
  • 10mins, Cool-down

Total: 40mins.


When organising relay races the following should be considered:

  • Numbers;
  • Area;
  • Safety;
  • Distance;
  • Equipment;
  • Skill factor; and
  • Start and finish position.

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