How to Play the Game Kick the Can

Kick the Can is an engaging children’s game that combines hiding and seeking with tag. For optimal play, large open areas with plenty of hiding spaces, such as playgrounds, cul-de-sac streets or parks, should be used, although backyards will also work.

Start the game by choosing one player to act as “it.”. They then need to select their home base and can cover their eyes and count to an agreed-upon number (this may differ based on age groups).


Kick the Can is an enjoyable game that has been around since the 1930s. This combination of tag, hide and seek, and capture the flag makes it suitable for virtually every age group and space availability. Players require just a small area to play it; as many as 20 people can be on one field simultaneously! Before beginning play, it’s essential to organize boundaries and set jails if anyone gets caught by surprise!

To play, one player or team is designated “it,” and an empty can is placed in an open area such as a parking lot, street, large park, backyard or similar setting. The person tasked with being “it” stands near the can with eyes closed while counting to a certain number as other players run and hide; should any seeker notice anyone hiding behind cover, they must call out their name and location as soon as they see someone hiding; otherwise if that person fails to come out quickly enough and kick over their can before being caught, they risk going directly behind bars!

To add another level of difficulty, a longer count time is ideal. This gives players more time to hide, which requires some strategy on their part. In addition, those playing “it” must avoid coming too close to hidden players so as not to tag them and potentially lose them accidentally.


Kick the Can is an engaging variation of hide and seek and tag that offers children an interesting learning experience while building spatial awareness, integrity and teamwork skills. 

Additionally, this game provides an effective way to burn energy and build endurance. Ideally, played in an empty field or parking lot – however, other places such as parking lots may work too – there should also be barriers (old tables or boxes stacked atop each other are ideal) to allow children to hide behind.

Start the game off right by tagging one player as “it.” Next, place a can in the centre of the playing area. When “it” closes their eyes, they count to an agreed-upon number of times before closing them again to count out loud while running and hiding amongst their peers.

 At the conclusion of their count, “it” searches for everyone hiding. When finding someone hiding, they call out their name and where they’ve hidden before racing against one another to kick the can first; should this occur first, then all hiding players will be freed!

One option for playing this variation of the game is allowing all jailed players to kick the can, regardless of whether or not they are seen by the guard, which may allow for faster escape from jail and continuation of play.


Kick the can requires a can, a large area and several players. For best results, outdoor play with lots of hiding spaces is best. Select one player as “it” (while another hides), close their eyes and count to 50 while they search for hidden players hiding from “it” to tag. 

Once “it” has finished counting, they attempt to organise those obscure players who were masked, sending any they discover to jail (unless freed by other players by kicking the can without getting caught by “it”). Once this process begins, players can help set free jailed players by kicking their can without being noticed by “it”.

Kick the Can is an inexpensive, effective way of encouraging outdoor play and physical activity among children while providing a pleasant social experience for teens and adults alike.

Variations in this classic game can add new excitement and keep players engaged. For instance, those playing as “it” might try calling out players’ names instead of physically tagging them or use an unusual object such as a ball, bucket, or plastic container instead of a can.


Kick the Can is an exciting variation of Marco Polo and tag that encourages kids to get moving while teaching spatial awareness and integrity. Played outdoors, Kick the Can can be found anywhere with hiding spots – a backyard, neighborhood green, cul-de-sac or parking lot are ideal spaces – one player has designated “it”, with an object like a paint can or bucket being placed at the center of playing area before everyone runs off and hides as “it” counts off from predetermined number to count them off again.

As each player counts backwards from 1, the person designated “it” must declare when they see another. When that person sees someone else, they must shout their name and hide their location aloud; any players seen then rush back towards the can to put their foot on it as soon as they can; otherwise, they are taken back into jail, and the seeker resumes searching again.

Kick the Can is an enjoyable game that offers hours of counting challenges for every skill level and age group, making every round more difficult and giving other players more chances to hide from you. Some prefer night time Kick the Can games; parents should monitor children closely as playing in darkness increases the risk of injury and harm.


Kick the Can. It’s more than just a game; it’s a thrilling adventure in your own backyard.

As you run, hide, and kick that can, you’re not just playing; you’re making memories. The laughter, the strategy, and the moments of anticipation all come together to create a game that’s as timeless as the friendships it builds.

So, next time you’re outside with friends, gather around, grab a can, and let the games begin. With each kick and every dash, you’re not just playing Kick the Can; you’re stepping into a world of fun and camaraderie. Happy kicking!

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