Swimming Game – Human Cannonball

Human Cannonball Description

Category: Group Challenge/Skill

Core Skill: Streamline

Name: Human Cannonball

Check out the picture first.


We played this game because I noticed at swim practice our streamlines were really lazy and slow. The swimmers were doing them correctly: locked thumbs, squeezed ears, looking down. They were just, slow. Not very energetic or powerful pushes.

We played this game using the techniques from this book:

How to Create Fun and Exciting Swim Games




Human cannonball works for any small or large group that knows how to do a streamline.  It is best for more advanced swimmers that need a break from the hum-drum always working hard swimmers. Work with swimmers who can do all 3 things for streamline consistently: look down, squeeze ears, and lock thumb.



The swim game human cannonball specifically works on explosive streamlines. We want our swimmers to push off the wall with “explosive” force and “ummmph.” Here we are working on explicitly being powerful and quick with our push off the wall into streamline.



With three members to a group:

  • 1 person is the cannonball
  • 1 person is the fuse
  • 1 person is the igniter

The cannonball waits on the surface of the water, getting ready to do their streamline or be the human cannonball.

The fuse holds their fist above the cannonball’s head and extends their pinky finger so it touches their hair/crown. The fuse should then lift their thumb so it is up. When the igniter touches their upraised thumb, the fuse counts to 3 and then “explodes” with a hand flourish and yelling “BOOM!!!” or “EXPLODE!” When counting they can extend their fist fingers so the hand is fully open on the “BOOM!”

The igniter makes a fist, and raises their thumb. They say, “One, Two, Three, Ignite!” and touch their thumb’s up thumb onto the fuse’s thumb.

Once the fuse shouts “BOOM” or “EXPLODE” the cannonball is shot out into the water with a super fast powerful strong jump.

The first 3 times each person goes as the cannonball they should jump and curl into a ball to “become the cannonball.”

The last 3 times each person goes as the cannonball they should instead do a streamline as strong and as fast as possible once the fuse explodes them out of the cannon.

Rotate within your group so you do all roles (cannonball, fuse, igniter) 3 times, then another 3 times.


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As the coach or instructor you’ll need to either demonstrate or find someone who understands this game with the picture or a variation of it to initiate the game. In my experience it was very necessary to be loud and energetic to get the swimmers to shout and yell “BOOM!” or “EXPLODE!” and get into the game.

It can help to demonstrate yourself as the fuse for the first round or the first demonstration.


Immediately after this game we did sprints and races and our streamlines were more explosive, quick, and powerful.


[Tweet “Play the Human Cannonball at swimming today”]


Have you played this game?

What did you think? Leave a comment, or connect on twitter or facebook.

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