Whether an athletic competition, ritual practice, or casual the tug-of-war tradition is many centuries old. The United States Tug of War Association web page features an interesting history of the sport, an official event in early Olympic Games.
We are fortunate to own a 30 foot length of nylon rope that was once used on a tug boat that is three or four inches in diameter. Using anything weaker would increase the danger of the rope breaking. Under the incredible strain of a tug of war a broken rope could result in some serious injuries.
A red tape marks the center of the rope. Two other markers are three feet from either side of the center and two more three feet from these marks. We mark the ground or floor with a center line and two lines three feet on either side of the center line. To win a pull the three foot mark on the rope must pass over the three foot line opposite of the center mark.
Anchor men can pass the rope under one arm, around their back and over the opposite shoulder with the end of the rope running free. The pullers grasp the rope with the palms up and may not wrap their arms around it or use any other grip.
We don’t allow teams to dig their feet in when we are outdoors like the pros do and we do not encourage ‘rowing’ or taking short jerks in secession because this is more likely to break the rope.