Ball Toss

Purpose: To begin discovery of some of the team's dynamics and how the group works as a team.

Group Size: 6 and up. Groups should be 6 to 9 people. Form as many groups as needed.


Materials Needed:

  • Six tennis balls (per team)
  • Stop watch


  1. Have each team stand in a loose circle.
  2. Everyone must pick an adjective that describes him/herself starting with the first letter of his/her first name. (eg. Super Steve)
  3. Hand a team member a single tennis ball and have that person toss the ball to a third person and so on until everyone has tossed and caught the ball once and the ball is back with the person who started. For all other ball toss activities the team must keep this initial pattern. (Don't start the ball with the formal leader.)
  4. Explain the rules:
    • You will be keeping the same pattern you just created.
    • Using everyone's name (Super Steve) you must say the person's name that you are going to pass the ball to.
    • You must also say thank you to the person who passed the ball to you. (Thank you, Marvelous Mary)
    • The ball must always start and end with the same person (the person you, the facilitator, handed the ball to).
  5. Give the team members a chance to practice tossing the ball in their established pattern, using their new names. (Two or three times around should do. You want to make sure they can remember the names and the people they are supposed to pass the ball to.)
  6. Hand the team five more balls.
  7. Describe the object of this exercise -- to get all six balls around their pattern as fast as possible.
  8. Tell them they have ten minutes to practice, at the end of which you will ask them for their goal (How fast they think they can do it).
  9. After ten minutes, ask them for their goal.
  10. Time them to see if they can meet their goal.
  11. Ask them if they can possibly go any faster.
  12. Give them a few more minutes to practice and tell them at the end of that practice time you will ask them for a new goal.
  13. Ask them for their new goal.
  14. Time them to see if they can meet their new goal.
  15. Now tell them the world record for nine team members is 3.4 seconds (this should be a big surprise to them).
  16. Give them five more minutes to practice to see if they can meet or beat the world record. Tell them at the end of their practice that you will ask them for another new goal.
  17. Ask for their goal.
  18. Run a timed run.
  19. You can give them more practice time and another shot if you want.

What to Observe:

  • Does leadership emerge in one person throughout or does it move around?
  • How well are they listening to each other?
  • What are the levels of celebration/frustration?
  • How does the group react to "competition" and/or pressure?

Debrief Questions:

  • How did you feel?
  • How would you describe the leadership?
  • Was the leadership supported?
  • How would you evaluate the strategies you came up with?
  • What contributed to the development of ideas?
  • What got in the way?
  • How was listening?
  • How was participation?
  • How can you apply this to work?


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