Would Squid Game's Tug Of War Tactics Actually Work?

A fictional tale of plucky heroes defying the odds or a trick you should try on your next sport's day?

Squid Game. If you haven’t seen it, where have you been?

The Korean drama has pretty much gripped the world – it’s the most watched original series ever on Netflix, viewed by more than 62 million subscribers.

The show centres on a group of destitute people in overwhelming debt lured by the opportunity to make more than 45billion Won (£28m) after completing a series of life-and-death children’s games.

So naturally there are many things to talk about - whether it’s the sugar honeycomb snack and how to re-create it or the nail-biting game of tug of war.

The latter is game number three, and contestants are split into groups of 10 where they must defeat another team in the classic sport’s day game. The twist of course, being that the losing team dies.

The winning team – who are physically weaker and made up of three women and an elderly frail man, compared to 10 burly guys – manage to deploy some sneaky tricks to defeat their opponents.

They begin by leaning back as far as possible for 10 seconds before tugging ferociously. When everyone is tired, they controversially take three steps forwards (instead of pulling backwards) causing their opponents to fall in confusion.

But would the tactic work in real life? A group of pals tried it (without the murder aspect, of course).

In theory, something like this could work, says sports scientist Mike Lee.

He tells Huffpost: “The ‘weaker’ team has set their body weight to a position that means the opposing team really has to pull the weaker teams entire body weight, plus whatever force they’re pushing through their legs with. If they sit upright, there’s a lot more mid back and arms being used.”

All tug of wars derive from a strong grip and leg placement, he adds. “So as long as the surface is stable, then in theory the weaker teams tactics should work. A lot of it comes down to the surface.

“If one of the weaker teams suddenly sat up the force might be enough to yank the rest of the team out of their laid down position. This would however be very tough on the quads!”

YouTuber Jin Yong-jin tried the game with some friends, also enlisting the help of some strangers to even out the teams.

Both groups tried the game in the traditional way, pulling the rope to see the stronger team. They then shuffled the members to mimic the strength of the Squid Game squad.

Trying the leaning back trick and jerking tugs from the show, the ‘weaker’ team did gain on their opponents, but ultimately weren’t able to overpower them. The opponents, however, did note the difference between pulls in the test game and the Squid Game technique.

They also tried the three-steps-forward method we see in the show, but it only offered an advantage where the teams were split more equally in strength.

We spoke to Jin to get his reaction to the experiment. The 29-year-old from Seoul tells Huffpost: “Before the game, I thought we could connect and win the tug of war challenge. I was surprised that when we did it, the opposing team started panicking seeing us in the lead.

“It was difficult to re-create because unlike in Squid Game, the team hadn’t known each other at all. It was difficult to move forward because we all had different quickness.”

But let’s not forget that this experiment didn’t have the exact same conditions as in the show – firstly, each contestant was chained at an equal distance from one another, meaning their weight was distributed equally. Secondly, there’s that life-and-death element bound to incentivise winning a whole lot more.

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