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.
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.
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