Skip to main content

Try the human knot game

Hold hands and tangle yourselves into a knot, then work together to untie yourselves without letting go of each other.

Back to Activities

Before you begin

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Create your knot

  1. Ask everyone to get into small teams. Each team must have at least six people, and an even number of members.
  2. Each team should stand in a circle, facing each other. Everyone should help anyone who’s new to join in.
  3. Each player should raise their right arm. They must link right hands with another player in their team. They can’t link hands with the players directly next to them.
  4. Players should repeat the same action with their left hands and make sure they are linking hands with a different person from their right hand.

Untangle your knot

  1. Teams should make one move at a time. Players can step over, under, or through the linked hands – but they must not let go of each other’s hands.
  2. The person running the game can ‘cut the rope’ twice. This allows two players to drop hands to complete one move. After this move, they must rejoin hands.
  3. To complete the challenge, teams must get as far as possible towards untying their knot. Sometimes it’s impossible, or there may be two loops left in the circle. Teams still complete the challenge if they can work out why they can’t untie the human knot.

Teams might want to repeat the game, after reflecting on what they’ve learned.


Untying the knot needed players to be responsible and trustworthy. Did you move carefully? Did you make sure your moves wouldn’t make another person more tangled? Did you have duck or stretch, so other people could move? Did different people play different roles in your team?

Untangling the challenge also needed everyone to show respect and trust for others. Did you check in with people in your team, to make sure they were OK? Did you encourage your team members, to make sure everyone’s ideas were heard? What did you do when people had different ideas about the next move? How did you speak to each other in stressful moments? Did you trust your teammates?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

When holding hands, don’t squeeze too tight. Don’t pull or twist people’s arms. An adult should watch the teams, to make sure no one is twisting too far or causing injuries.

All activities should be part of your risk assessment and meet Scouting guidelines, including ratios, approval and consent. [generic copy]

  • You can increase or decrease the number of ‘cut the ropes’ each team is allowed. 
  • Give players rope to hold to increase the space between them, so it’s easier to move.
  • Add another pair of players to a team to create a bigger knot.

Giving each player a piece of rope to hold is an alternative to players holding hands directly.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.