Keyboarding Activity: Typing Football

This activity is a way to motivate students toward greater levels of speed and accuracy.

On a blank transparency (or you can use an entire bulletin board), draw a diagram of a football field showing ten-yard line markers and goal post areas. Place this drawing on the upper two-thirds of the sheet. If desired, use different colored ink to represent each team's side of the football field. On the bottom third of the sheet, draw two large boxes to represent a scoreboard. See diagram below for an example or copy this to your own document to create your transparency.

Divide the class into two approximately equal teams. The division should be done arbitrarily so that there are both good and poor typing skills represented on both sides. Make a numbered list of the names of students on each team. Place both lists opposite each other on the same sheet of paper for easy reference.

You are now ready to play. It is suggested that the game by played in lieu of speed or accuracy timings on a daily basis, five to seven minutes each day, and continued for several weeks, or as long as interest remains high. However, if desired, the game may be played completely within one class period. This is an excellent activity on the last day before Thanksgiving or Christmas vacation. Play begins with students taking a timed writing on paragraph material selected by the teacher from the text, and then computing their speeds. Both teams begin on the 50-yard line facing their goal post. Their objective is to carry the ball to their goal post area and score a touchdown. They will "tackle" each other on the basis of their typing speed (or speed and accuracy if the teacher desires).

The use of one-minute timings is suggested; but if the teacher is accustomed to giving longer timed writings, these may also be used. If you wish to use a sentence rather than a paragraph (and to speed the game along), then it may be wise to use a shorter time period (30 seconds, for example). Students are selected randomly and, depending on the goal of the teacher, compete on the basis of speed or speed and accuracy. Students do not know when they will be called upon to "tackle" the other team, and therefore, always try to do their best on each timing.

To keep students "on their toes" and to insure random selection, it is suggested that the teacher use numbers as a guide to selecting the players who will be called upon. Write on slips of paper the numbers corresponding to the numbers assigned to each player. Place these slips of paper in two piles representing the two teams. At the end of each timing the teacher will draw a number from each pile and call out the names of those players whose number corresponds to the number drawn. Should one of the players called be absent, redraw. After each drawing, the number is placed again in the pile.

If the game is being played for speed, at the end of each timed writing, the teacher calls out a number of Team A. The player responds with his computed speed. This is repeated for a player on the opposing team. The lower score is subtracted from the higher score and the difference is the number of yards one team can advance from the 50 yard line. For example, if team member A had a speed of 65 and team member B had a speed of 50, Team A would advance on the grid 15 yards toward their goal post. The teacher would show this on the diagram projected on the screen by marking a small x on the diagram and writing the number 35 below the x to indicate the position of the ball. Another timing is then given, and two new players are selected randomly by the teacher. A comparison of typing speeds is made, and the appropriate team advances or retreats from the position in which the ball was during the last play. For example, if team member A has a speed of 20 and team member B has a speed of 30, Team B would advance 10 yards in the direction of its goal post which, in this case, means the ball is now on the 45 yard line. Should both players report the same speed, the ball does not move. Whenever one team scores a touchdown by reaching its goal post, it receives six points on the scoreboard and play resumes with both teams facing each other on the 50 yard line.

To make assessing speed and accuracy easier, you might want to download the freeware program KP Typing Tutor and use it for your exercises. It has a feature called Free Exercise where you can type in a defining line of text and then it measures your speed and accuracy on that particular line of type (KP Typing tutor is located at If you use a typing software program that uses drill lines sequentially, you could have students begin at the same location and run through the drill lines together.

Another variation is to set an accuracy requirement. For example, if the error limit is 2 and one team reports 20 wpm as speed and 1 error and the other team 45 wpm as speed and 4 errors, then the first team would win the faceoff and get their full 20 yards as a reward. Depending on whether you are using a particular software program or not, you may wish to set an accuracy percentage requirement (90%, for example).