*Please note: I am just a parent who is a fan of the hit TV show “American Ninja Warrior” and created a birthday party theme that celebrates the fun of the show. This post is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by NBC or American Ninja Warrior. All ideas and opinions expressed here are my own.
Are your kids fans of “American Ninja Warrior”? This fantastic show follows competitors as they attempt to master the world's most challenging obstacle course. The events on the course are designed to test athletes strength, balance, and endurance. And when it comes to planning kids birthday parties– my kids always have an opinion about their theme and this year for my son's 11th birthday there was no doubt what he wanted to do- hold his own backyard American Ninja Warrior Birthday Party!
My husband and I love how watching this show has inspired our kids to want to create their own version of an American Ninja Warrior course in our backyard! But when it came to constructing a course that matches the American Ninja Warrior theme and challenges but at a level that kids can actually do- well… we really had to put some thought into this!
So here's the course we created, and some ideas on how you can create one too!
Backyard American Ninja Warrior Course for Kids!
Element #1: Quintuple Steps
Most of the quarterfinal rounds on the TV show begin with the Quintuple Steps. To create our version, we started with leftover pallets that we had, covered them in plywood and then added “legs” to achieve the correct angle. Some of the legs were actually old table legs that we had in our garage! The key is to space them the proper distance apart so that the kids are challenged to reach them.
Here is a great tutorial from Instructables on how to create your own quintuple steps!
Element #2: Slackline
A slackline is a great element for a backyard course because it tests balance. If you are running the course with older kids, you can eliminate the strap across the top line that my son Jack is using to help him stay on the slack line. But for parties, it is better to give the kids a way to be successful rather than having them “lose” right on the second element!
Instead of making this be a balance element as we did- you can make it closer to a true Ninja course by adding this kind of a slackline that is designed to test your upper body strength ! It comes with a climbing ladder, 3 gymnastics rings, 3 monkey bars, and 3 knots!
Element #3: Log Roll / Rail Balance
This was an idea that my son and I pulled together at the last moment. We found a long log that was in our backyard woodpile and placed it in front of a skateboard rail that was left in our yard when we moved into our home.
This ended up being the element that took out the largest number of birthday party competitors! It is hard to keep your balance walking across a log that can roll, and harder still to jump from the log onto a skateboard rail and walk to the end of the rail without falling off!
Element #4: Army Crawl
The kids had to crawl beneath the vinyl tape without touching it to advance past this section of the course.
Element #5: Toad Stools
These were five large logs pieces that we had in our woodpile that we arranged far enough apart to make them a challenge to jump from one to the next. Also- since they were not attached to the lawn in any way, they wobbled a bit when the kids landed on them- which made this element even harder.
You could achieve this same idea by using a set of 5-gallon buckets turned upside down!
Element #6: The Cliffhanger
This one was the element that took out almost every remaining competitor at our party! When we bought our house a large wooden half-pipe came with it- and while my kids have had fun sledding down the half-pipe “hill” in the winter, they don't have strong enough skateboarding skills yet to board on it.
But then my husband came up with the idea that we can use this half pipe as a base to build a few American Ninja Warrior elements- starting with this cliffhanger wall. Inspired by the cliffhanger wall used on the show, Steve attached pieces of wood railing at different angles and intervals across the face of this plywood board. It takes a great deal of upper arm strength to make it from one end to the other!
You could achieve a similar obstacle by attaching climbing hand holds to a tree trunk and creating a short course up, down, and around a tree. Or you could mount a climbing pegboard to a tree, and have kids climb from the bottom to the top using ninja climbing pegs !
Element #7: Warp Wall
The warped wall on the TV show is gigantic, and the athletes need to run up as high as possible and then grab onto the top with their hands to pull themselves over the top of the wall. But since we had the curved walls of this half-pipe we decided to make this a challenge for the kids by telling them that they could not use their hands at all- they had to use only their leg strength to run up the wall and reach the top.
If you want to go out and build your own warped wall- you find instructions over on Instructables!
Of course you need a timer for your Ninja Warrior Party!
Winning the event is all about completing the obstacles in the shortest amount of time! This Ninja Timer makes it feel just like the TV version!
Ninja Warrior Birthday Party Scorekeeping!
We kept the score at our party using the same “system” that they do on the TV show. Participants are timed once they start the course, and the person doing the timing notes the time that they start each element. Because not everyone will finish the course- top finishers are judged based on the furthest element they complete and the time that they started that element.
So if two people complete the entire course- the one with the best time wins overall, the other person that finished wins 2nd place, and the person that completed the next furthest element in the fastest time wins 3rd place.
Our Prizes: For first place, we used a Giant (7oz) Hershey Bar . The 2nd place team received two Regular (1.55oz) Hershey Bars and 3rd place received a small bag of Snack-Sized Hershey Bars , which they promptly shared with everyone else at the party!
See Our Backyard American Ninja Warrior Course in Action!
American Ninja Warrior Birthday Party Invitation
I created these cool party invites which can be printed and mailed or sent out as an email attachment. You'll find a download link to a blank invite you can use (for free!) as well as a printed thank you note at the end of this post.
You can either fill in the party information by hand or upload the image to PicMonkey to add text. (Check out my tutorial on how to use PicMonkey to create birthday party invitations!)
American Ninja Warrior Birthday Party Props!
A birthday party is always more fun and festive with props! Fans of the show know that many competitors come up with “Warrior Nicknames” and often wear some outlandish get-ups while they compete. So it would be fun to give everyone a few minutes to think of a warrior nickname and choose from this set of capes and masks , colorfully printed headbands , add a little hair chalk , or even an American Ninja Warrior hat !
And of course it would be fun if the birthday boy or birthday girl wore “an official” Ninja Warrior tee !
American Ninja Warrior Birthday Party Cake:
I love it when cakes fit the theme! For our party, we made a sheet cake with red, white, and blue stars on it made of fondant , but I love this cake from the Christensen Clan that she made for her son's 7th birthday!
American Ninja Warrior Birthday Party Favors:
I love giving party guests a favor that they can use for a long time (rather than candy or plastic toys), so I take some group photos of the party guests after they've donned the props and accessories, and also while they are competing.
Later I create a collage of the images and print copies of the collage on my color printer and then place them in a 4×6 black picture frame for each guest. I think framed photos make the perfect party favor!
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*Please note: I am just a parent who is a fan of the hit TV show “American Ninja Warrior” and created a birthday party theme that celebrates the fun of the show. This post is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by NBC or American Ninja Warrior. All ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission if you purchase through these links.
Do you think that your child would love an American Ninja Warrior birthday party?