Forklift rodeos are warehouse competitions that showcase the skills of forklift operators across the country. All participants and judges must be authorized forklift operators. These competitions are held in large warehouses where participants are challenged to complete a variety of obstacles by using their forklift knowledge, accuracy and safe operation.

Scoring is calculated by combining the participant’s driving time with penalties and bonus points. Penalties add time to the overall score and are given for violating driving rules, dropping objects and coming in contact with obstacle components. Bonus points take time off of the overall score and are awarded for correct answers during the first round forklift quiz. The quiz consists of 100 multiple choice and true/false questions testing the operator’s knowledge of general maintenance requirements, operations and safety precautions.

After the quiz, the participants then complete a full inspection of a forklift that has been planted with defects. Participants will have to inspect their forklifts for things such as:

  • Fuel leaks
  • Tire pressure
  • Battery charge
  • Engine oil level
  • Coolant level
  • Operator’s manual
  • Seat belt
  • Brake fluid
  • Driver controls/brakes
  • etc.


Participants then navigate two different courses made from yellow caution tape, duct tape, traffic cones and pallets. These courses are meant to be completed in a timely, yet safe manner.

In the first obstacle, operators have to maneuver around obstacles while balancing a tennis ball on top of a traffic cone throughout the course. If they lose balance and drop the tennis ball, they are automatically disqualified from the round. If they knock over a cone or touch any part of the obstacle course with the forklift they are penalized.

In the second obstacle, participants play a game of basketball. They maneuver through a course to pick up a basketball from the top of a cone and balance the ball backwards through the course again. Once they reach the starting point, they have to turn around precisely and place the basketball into the hoop. A dropped ball results in automatic disqualification.

If you are looking for a fun way to enhance the skills of your warehouse workers, consider hosting a rodeo. These competitions promote skills excellence and safe operator performance. It motivates your warehouse staff to brush up on their knowledge of forklift safety and safe practices all while having a great time.

(Operations Manager)

Chris Charles is a 27 year veteran of operations and logistics. Experience included commercial property management and project management for an international shipping company in Maryland.

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