How to Play Cops & Robbers Outside

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Cops and robbers is a classic children's game. It is played in a large outdoor area such as a playground. Two teams are formed, the cops and the robbers, and just like in a game of tag, the cops chase the robbers until they catch them all.

It is better to have more robbers than cops, instead of more cops than robbers.
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Form two equal or near equal teams. One team will be the cops, and the other team will be the robbers. If you have an odd number of people, add extra people to the robbers.

A big tree would make a good jail area.
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Pick out a jail area. This can be a tree, playground equipment or any big object.

Put the cops in jail and have them count slowly to 15. During this time, the robbers will run and scatter to get away from the cops.

After completing the count, the cops must run to try to capture the robbers by tagging them.

Put each captured robber in the jail. Continue until all the robbers are caught.

Switch teams after all the robbers are in jail.


  • Robbers who have not yet been captured can attempt to free robbers who are in jail by tagging them. After being tagged, the freed robber has 10 seconds to escape before the cops can attempt to re-capture him.


About the Author

Beth Porter has been a writer since 2008, with strong experience in early childhood education, gardening, home living and crafts. Porter is presently attending college, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education at the University of Cincinnati.

Photo Credits

  • Seiya Kawamoto/Lifesize/Getty Images