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Team Building Exercise – Call me by name and throw me the ball…

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Coloredballs Purpose: There are several purposes for this exercise. 1) It is fun. I have used it with adults, teenagers and my family and everyone loves it. 2) It creates great energy. 3) Creates teaching opportunities.

When: Is really good for new teams, but can used with great success for existing teams as well. Use when a team needs some energy like at the beginning of a meeting or training, or during the middle of the day or afternoon. Can also be used when you want to make a point and teach something.

Materials: 12 – 24 tennis balls or any type of ball with a soft texture.

How:

1)     Have a team of 8–12 participants form a circle. The easiest way to do this is to have them hold hands and then let go at about arms length.

2)     Give a ball to someone in the circle and ask them to call the name of someone else in the circle, and then throw the ball to them. The person who receives the ball says “thank you” to the person who threw it. For example, if Steve threw the ball, whoever received the ball would say “thank you Steve.” That person would then call someone else’s name and then throw the ball to them. They would then thank them.

3)     Continue around the circle until everyone has received the ball once. Tell the participants that they need to remember who they threw the ball to and who they received the ball from. They will go in the same order each time.

4)     Once everyone has received the ball, go around again, but faster. The goal is to get the group comfortable doing this quickly with one ball.

5)     Finally, introduce other balls slowly until they are all in the circle being thrown.

6)     Once the activity gets to a point where a majority of the group is fetching balls instead of catching them, then it is time to stop the activity.

7)     Ask the group how this game relates to what is being trained, or decided upon, or to the team dynamics etc…

Outcome: This activity should create a lot of laughing and energy once multiple balls are introduced and there are lots of names being called. It should provide a great opportunity for the trainer or leader to teach.

Things to note: This activity is most effective with 8 – 12 participants in a group. If the group is 16 or larger, then break them into two separate teams to begin. Then do it as one large team at the end for fun.

Mike Rogers

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I have led, trained and consulted in business with hundreds of individuals and teams on leadership and team concepts. My greatest satisfaction in life is seeing others succeed. I am currently the owner of "Teamwork and Leadership Bloggings with Michael Rogers" and OpenTheMeeting.com.

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  • http://campydiem.com Kat Fitzgerald

    Mike, Great icebreaker / teambuilder.
    I have used this with younger groups as well and I discovered that often a non-ball diffuses any different athletic ability that could present in the group. A stuffed animal, pillow, floppy mouse pad, whatever… will assure that sporty members can’t show off and awkward members are made comfortable when everyone else fumbles the odd-shaped objects. Unless your goal is to highlight differences, this non-ball option can help keep ability and competition out of the equation. Helping people save-face will save the day.

  • http://www.secondg.net Mike Rogers

    Thanks Kat. I appreciate your comments. Yes, with certain groups you may want to consider using softer objects to throw. I have done it both ways in the past. You don’t to embarrass people.

  • http://www.philstoyforum.blogspot.com Phil Wrzesinski

    This is a great exercise for new groups, too, especially to help learn names and break down the uneasiness that comes when a new group forms.
    Some of the lessons of this activity include trying to stay focused with much going on, trying to do too much at once, trying to go too fast, differing skill levels affecting the outcome, and the way simple skills can become difficult when accelerated.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/1234213339s30486 Mike Rogers

    Thanks Phil. I appreciate your insightful comments, as always!

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