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How to Play Monkey in the Middle

Being the monkey in the middle can drive you bananas.
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The aim of Monkey in the Middle -- throwing a ball between players to prevent one player from catching it -- can seem a little cruel, but is a fun game for all ages provided you know the rules. Thought of as primarily a game for young children, you can also use it as a drill for ball sports. To play, all you'll need is at least three players and any ball-like object.

Basic Gameplay Rules

In a three-player game, the "monkey" stands midway between the other two players. A larger group forms a circle with the "monkey" in the middle. Players throw the ball to each other -- their aim is to stop the "monkey" from catching or getting to it first if they drop it. If the "monkey" gets the ball, he switches places with the player who threw it. To make things easier for the "monkey," set a rule that he can also switch places with any player who drops or doesn't catch the ball even if he doesn't get to it first.

Monkey in the Middle Variations

If you have a large group, make the game even by having two "monkeys" or two teams. In a team game, half the players -- the "monkeys" -- make an inner circle and the other half make a circle outside them. The players in the outside circle throw the ball to each other -- if someone in the inside catches it, the players switch places. If you don't have a ball, you can use a bean bag, soft toy or any item you can safely throw. You can also play a kicking version of the game -- instead of throwing the ball, players have to kick it to each other.

Monkey in the Middle Drills

You can also use Monkey in the Middle as a drill in some sports, such as basketball, football or soccer, to help develop ball skills. For example, the "monkey" can hone interception and tackling skills, while other players can improve their ball handling and control, learning how to pass and shoot accurately around the "monkey."

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