Sunday 17th November 09:02

Teambuilders: "The Ball Game"

"The Ball Game" is a simple but powerful exercise showing how creativity can dramatically improve a team's performance.
Group size: between 5 and 15 people
Setting: a large space with no tables and chairs
Preparation Time: 5 minutes (for everyone to read the rules)
Running Time: 30 minutes (to perform the task in 6 rounds)
Exercise Style: Activity teambuilder
Multiple Intelligence Style: Kinaesthetic/Active
Skills demonstrated: continuous improvement, motivation, communication, creativity, problem-solving, teamwork, leadership skills
Materials: a soft ball that is easy to throw and catch; a stopwatch

"The Ball Game": The Rules

Type up the following rules on a handout and give them to everyone.
1. Your task, as a group, is to create a process for giving and receiving the ball in your group.
2. You cannot pass the ball to the person next to you.
3. A successful round is when the ball has been given and received by everyone in the group and is back at the person who started with it.
4. The ball must travel through the air.
5. The ball cannot be rolled across surfaces, eg the floor, walls, tables and chairs.

"The Ball Game": The Rounds

"The Ball Game": Round 1

In round 1, there is no time target and no rounds target. The group have to work out a method for the ball to be passed around the group without being passed to the person next to them.

"The Ball Game": Round 2

In round 2, let the group know that the rounds target is 8. If anyone drops the ball, the group must start again. Set the team off and use the stopwatch to time them. When they complete the 8 rounds, shout out the time. In the accompanying youtube video, the group completes the 8 rounds in 35.4 seconds.

"The Ball Game": Round 3

In round 3, tell the group that they must repeat the task but their time must be 10 seconds less than in round 2, ie under 25 seconds. Give the team time to work out what they must change in order to achieve this. A cohesive group will come up with a new plan quicker than a less cohesive group. When they are ready, set the team off and time them again. Usually, the group will move closer together so that they are passing not throwing the ball. In the accompanying youtube video, the group performs the task in 21 seconds.

"The Ball Game": Round 4

In round 4, tell the group that they must repeat the task but their time must be 10 seconds less than in round 3, ie under 15 seconds. Give the team time to work out an even quicker method. Set the team off and time them again. In the accompanying youtube video, the group work out a new system by forming a tight circle with their hands in a tunnel down which the ball is passed. They perform the task in 10 seconds.

"The Ball Game": Round 5

Round 5: In round 5, tell the group that they must repeat the task but their time must be 5 seconds less than in round 4, ie under 5 seconds. Give the team time to agree how they are going to work. Set the team off and time them again. In the accompanying youtube video, the group work out an even faster system and perform the task in 3 seconds.

"The Ball Game": Round 6

In round 6, tell the group that they must repeat the task but their time must be under 1 second. This is an extremely tough target but if the team reach this stage, they should be feeling both highly motivated and highly creative. See if the team can figure out a way to perform the task. Set the team off and time them again. In the accompanying youtube video, the group arrive at their solution by using their hands like a dice shaker. They finally perform the task in 0.8 seconds.

"The Ball Game": Youtube Video (9.21 seconds)

See how an actual training group play "The Ball Game" and in 6 rounds improve their time from 35.4 seconds in round 1 to 0.8 seconds in round 6.