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Below is some guidance on how to get started in tug of war, including the type of equipment required, training, and how to oranise your own competitions. The information below is simply guidance and is not exhaustive, however should you require any further information, please contact us. 

Starting a new team

Tug of War competitions are often weight categorised, with each team consisting of 8 pulling members. Most tug of war teams start by getting involved in local shows, fetes, carnivals and village green competitions before taking up the sport on a more regular basis.

Most tug of war clubs as they mature have more than 8 pulling members, as well as a team coach/manager who conducts team training and team selection. Having more than 8 team members often allows teams to compete in more than one weight category.

Anyone wishing to take up tug of war on a regular basis should (over time) aim to develop a good level of all round body strength and fitness to help them cope with the rigourous rope training and competition that they are likely to experience. This is usually achieved through running (a mixture of long distance and sprint training), as well as cycling and weight training in the gym. Good levels of aerobic fitness, stamina and basic strength are usually a good starting point, although this can be developed over time.

For outdoor tug of war, teams are required to compete in shorts, cotton type rugby shirts, socks and boots which may have a metal plate fixed to the base of the heel. Studded football boots and running spikes should not be worn. 

For indoor tug of war (which takes place on mats), teams are required to compete in shorts, cotton type rugby shirts, socks and a flat rubber soled training shoe.   

Protective leather belts may be worn on the outside of the shirts to provide support to the back.


Most tug of war teams undertake team training two or three times a week, where team members come together to train on the rope. This usually involves a mixture of mock competitions or use of a training rig. A training rig is a large pulley system with a weight attached at one end and a tug of war rope at the other end which teams of 8 lift up and down to develop team work. Most training rigs are erected outdoors, but many teams go on to develop basic indoor facilities with a length of wooden slats being used instead of soil to provide footholds for the pulling members to move the weight up and down.  

Further guidance on training a tug of war team can be read and dowloaded by clicking the link below:

Training a tug of war team

Pulling Position

Teamwork and technique is a key facet of any successful tug of war team. All 8 team members should do the same thing at the same time. Everyone should be in the correct pulling position to apply the correct leverage.

The TWIF instruction video demonstrating the correct pulling technique for outdoor tug of war can be viewed by clicking here.

Oraginising your own tug of war event

To organise an outdoor tug of war competition you will require a flat and open area of grass, approximately 60m in length, which should easily accommodate the length of a pull. The width of the pulling area will vary depending on the amount of competition ropes that you will have. For one rope, a width of 12 metres should be provided. The competition area should be free of any litter, debris, loose stones, etc, and the grass should be cut to a shorth length. The competition area should then be marked off with a barrier to prevent spectators from encroaching onto it. A gap should be provided within the barrier to allow teams to enter and leave the arena before the start and after the finish of a pull.

Competition areas should be located in close proximity to toilet and handwashing facilities, and a good amunt of car parking should also be available. Most event organisers also ensure that refreshments are available for purchase by participants and spectators.

Further guidance on running a tug of war competition can be read and downloaded by clicking the link below:

Organising a tug of war event

If you have any further queries about organising a competition, then please do not hesitate to contact a local representative using the contacts page

All TOWA competitions are controlled by TOWA judges who will judge every pull in the competition. Judges are invited to competitions by the event organisers. Timekeeper/recorders are also required who will keep the score throughout the progress of a competition, and they will also record the times of each pull. Timekeeper/recorders are often provided with a small tent/gazebo and table and chairs to the centre of one side of the arena with a good view of the competition in progress to they can keep the scores.

Most TOWA competitions are held under a TOWA permit, which can be obtained for a cost of £10. Such competitions are run and supervised by a TOWA judge and a official permit will ensure that such a competition is covered by insurance. Further details regarding obtaining a permit and queries relating to our insurance should be directed to the Secretary.