Activity 26/150

Stick Pull

This game is one of the many pulling contests that use the idea of the tug-of-war. The two competitors sit on the floor and attempt to pull each other out of position, or to pull the stick out of the opponent’s hands.

Cultural Information
There are many different versions of the Stick Pull. This contest is popular among the Inuit as well as many Indigenous cultures across Canada. The way of playing described here is considered to be one of the Alaskan Inuit (Eskimo) versions who shared the game with the Inuit in the Mackenzie Delta region. The game tests the competitors’ strength endurance and maximal strength, but there are no technical challenges. Everybody can play!

This game can be played anywhere, in or outdoors.

How to play
The winner of a coin toss choses inside or outside hand position for the first round. The two competitors sit down on the floor, with their legs bent at the knees, and the feet close together. The soles of the feet touch. Both players grasp a 30cm long stick, one player with both hands on the inside, the other on the outside. On a signal (‘3-2-1-go!”), the competitors begin to pull evenly and strongly. Very important: No twisting, jerking or sudden movements are allowed! The round ends when one competitor succeeds in pulling the opponent over, or in pulling the stick out of the opponent’s hands. (This does not happen very often, but stronger competitors might actually be able to pull the opponent off the floor.) The Stick Pull can be played as a best-of-three competition. Hand positions are switched between rounds. A variation of this activity to make the pull more difficult, participants can agree to keep the legs straight rather than bend them at the knees.

Suggested equipment
- A straight stick (dowel), 30 cm long and at least 2 cm in diameter to prevent breakage.

Physical activity in Canada includes everyone, regardless of any ability or circumstance. Some sports and activities may, however, require a few adaptations to make them as accessible as possible. Below you’ll find recommendations and suggestions on how to accommodate individuals that may have limitations or different needs. With a positive attitude and a little ingenuity, any activity can be made enjoyable for all.


This activity requires little adaptation as it is done in a sitting position. For individuals with visual impairments, use audio cues to begin the match.

To enjoy this activity fully, remember to pair up opponents with equal skill level.

Learning/Cognitive Disabilities

Keep the rules to a minimum when starting and then build on successes. Ensure that skill levels are equal.

Use demonstrations when explaining the game.

Have a positive attitude and enjoy.

Mobility Limitation

This activity can be done while seated either on the floor or in a chair with the chair being anchored by a person or device. If grasping is difficult consider the use of Velcro.

To enjoy this activity fully, remember to pair up opponents with equal skill level. Variations to the activity can be made such as turning it into a team event, such as tug of war.

Benefits of Stick Pull

The Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines outline the amount and type of physical activity you need at every age and stage of life. And, for the first time, the new 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children & Youth also include sleep. Following the guidelines will help reduce the risk of chronic disease, lead to a more focused mind, a stronger, fitter body, and all in all, a more enjoyable life.

See Benefits and Guidelines

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Michelle Murray
Communications Coordinator