Many people might question the idea of sports teams using Rock Paper Scissors, considering it a mere children’s hand game. However, this underestimated game is not only an internationally recognized professional sport but also a versatile tool with real-life applications.

In this article, we explore how sports teams utilize Rock Paper Scissors and its various applications in sports, including decision-making and skill development.

Rock Paper Scissors in Sports

Rock Paper Scissors is often used as a fair method for decision-making, similar to flipping a coin or drawing straws. However, unlike these chance-based methods, Rock Paper Scissors can involve an element of skill, allowing players to exploit their opponents’ weaknesses. This has led some to question whether it is truly a fair method for decision-making.

Additionally, sports teams have adapted Rock Paper Scissors into their training exercises, using it to develop specific skills, such as reaction time for volleyball players and strategic thinking for martial artists.

Real-Life Applications of Rock Paper Scissors in Sports

  1. FA Women’s Super League Match (2018): A referee used Rock Paper Scissors to determine the kickoff when he forgot the coin for the pregame coin toss. Despite the referee’s suspension by the Football Association, this example demonstrates the game’s use as an unbiased decision-making method.
  2. Basketball (2016): Two Boston Celtics players used Rock Paper Scissors to decide who would take a free throw during an NBA game, again highlighting its role in decision-making.
  3. Volleyball Drills: Coaches use Rock Paper Scissors to improve players’ vision and communication skills. Players pass the ball and simultaneously make a hand sign, while their teammate must recognize the sign, call it out, and pass the ball back.
  4. Swimming Relay: Swimmers play a game of Rock Paper Scissors in the middle of the pool, with the winner advancing forward and the loser remaining stationary. The drill’s objective is to work on awareness in the pool and sprint speed for swimming.
  5. Chase/ Rock Paper Scissors Tag: This running sport, popular among children, aims to build speed and quick thinking. After playing a game of Rock Paper Scissors, the winner runs to a “safe spot” while the loser attempts to tag them before they reach it.
  6. Martial Arts: In a drill called “slanted flying,” martial arts students engage in a sparring match, switching to a game of Rock Paper Scissors mid-fight. The winner earns the right to knock down their opponent, scoring a point. The drill aims to teach students the basics of strategic thinking in martial arts.


The various applications of Rock Paper Scissors in sports demonstrate its versatility and value beyond a simple children’s game. By incorporating the game into their training, sports teams can enhance decision-making, mental capacity, and specific skills. Rock Paper Scissors is more than a game of chance—it is a dynamic and adaptable tool with countless applications.

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