Foxy - a Playground Game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Foxy - a Playground Game

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During our childhood, we all participate in an abundance of playground games with our friends. These could include the various 'tag' games, rounders and many games of football1 with crumbling sponge balls.

None, however, require as much skill, cunning and tact as a game of 'Foxy'.

What is 'Foxy'?

Put simply, Foxy is an elaborate, drawn-out game of tag. The idea is simple. One person - 'it' - faces a wall with their back to the other players. The other players move slowly away from 'home' and make their way towards the wall at which 'it' is waiting. The aim is to touch the wall without 'it' seeing you do it, and make your way back home before 'it' catches you. If you succeed, you become 'it'. This game is recommended for 5-10 players. Any more and it becomes unruly. This game is also recommended for ages 7-11 years, though older Researchers may also want to give this game a shot - especially if you're feeling brave and don't mind making a prat of yourself.

Finding a Suitable Play Area

Unlike most games of tag, the play area does need to fit certain criteria. You will need to find an area of playground in which two walls are facing each other with at least ten metres between them. The area should be clear, although advanced game players may want to use obstacles. Ideally, the walls should be parallel.

Choosing 'It'

As with most games played in the school grounds, a method is needed to pick 'it' - the person who will be faced against the wall at one end of the play area. Probably the fairest way is for each player to place one foot in a circle and, using one of any number of rhymes, count round the feet with each syllable beat counted on one foot at a time. When the rhyme has finished, the foot at which the counting ended is withdrawn from the circle. This procedure is repeated until only one foot remains; the person to whom the foot is attached is 'it'.

The following rhymes are recommended for use when picking 'it':

My apparation,
How many people at the station?
(Someone yells a random number. This number is counted up to, one per foot, and whoever it finishes on withdraws their foot.)

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo,
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny meeny, miny, mo.

There are, of course, many other rhymes for choosing 'it', most of which are far too rude to be repeated here...

Caution: it has been known on occasion for the person eventually chosen as 'it' to become very agitated, grumpy and violent, especially if they are not very athletic, as this makes it harder for them to tag anyone. This person should be told sternly that they were picked 'fair and square'. If the temper tantrum does not subside, then expulsion from the group may be necessary.

Playing the Game

Once picked, 'it' chooses one of the walls and the other players all gather to make contact with the other wall. When ready, 'it' turns away, making sure there is no way that they can see the other players. The other players begin slowly to make their way towards 'it's wall. At any time, 'it' may turn around quickly and look at the other players. The players must then freeze as quickly as possible. If any of the players are seen moving, 'it' must call out their name, at which point the player makes his or her way towards the wall and makes contact with it. This is known as 'capturing'. 'It' turns back around and the game continues. If more people are caught moving, they simply link hands with any other players caught, creating a chain of people reaching out from the wall.

If any player manages to reach the wall without being caught, they must touch it or make contact with a player that was caught moving (if there were any). Next, they shout 'Foxy!' At this point, all the players must run back to 'home' while being chased by 'it'. If 'it' tags any of these players and calls 'Foxy!', the tagged player becomes 'it' and the game restarts. If all the players reach 'home, 'it' makes his or her weary way back to their wall to start again.

NB - this game requires honesty and a fair bit of leniency. Do not cheat and pretend to see someone move. Also, take into account the degree of movement. It is unfair to capture someone by claiming that you saw their eyelid move or that they twitched very slightly.

What If All the Players Are Caught Moving?

Good question. If all the players are caught, they should link arms, forming a long chain protruding out from the wall.

At this point, 'it' paces up and down the line dictating a story, which can be about anything at all. It is important that 'it' keeps a distance of at least four feet away from the other players to give to give them a fair chance of escape later. During the story, 'it' will say the word 'Foxy', allowing all the players to run back 'home' to make their escape. Again, if 'it' catches any of these players and cries 'Foxy', they become 'it'.

A Tip

During the story-telling, use words that rhyme with 'Foxy', such as 'boxy' or 'toxy'. They needn't be real words, just words that will confuse the captured players into thinking you have said 'Foxy', thus causing them to jerk and create a false start, at which point the players must be recalled. Also, elongate any 'ffff' sound to give the impression that you are building up to the word 'Foxy', but then say another word beginning with 'F'. Use these tactics to confuse and disorientate the players, making them easier to catch.

Going Further

The experienced player will eventually tire of certain aspects of the game and will want to expand upon the basic premise. The following are suggested amendments you can make to the game.


Use dustbins, trees and other kids as obstacles to weave in and out of. These can be easily used to disorientate 'it'. Place them in the empty area between both walls and rearrange them after each round.


Make the game tricky by allowing 'it' to capture any player that they hear. This may prove tricky in a noisy playground, so use this rule when you feel appropriate.


Home needn't be a wall. Feel free to use trees or even goalposts. This will allow you to try a variety of playing surfaces and terrains.

Whatever amendments you make, be sure that all players involved agree to them.

Is That It?

Yup. That is the game known as 'Foxy'. There is no score as such, just a wonderful, energetic and amusing game of stealth and tact. The SAS may well be trained using this game, although this cannot be confirmed...

Enjoy and play safe.

1That's soccer for anyone outside the UK.

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