Friday Lesson: Name Ball Activity

Courtesy of Chris Cavert |

Name Ball
From Games for Group, Book 1 by Chris Cavert (adapted from an activity by Frank Harris)
Needs: Two different colored lightweight balls (for example, one yellow tennis ball and a red squish/relax ball) and a mid-size open area.  I like to use some spots for players to stand on—but they are not necessary.

Procedure: Have players stand in a circle, facing in, with space to permit catching and throwing a ball in any direction.  This first circle will be position “A.”  To start off, have all the players learn the first names of the people on their left and right.  Hand one of the players a ball – let’s say the yellow tennis ball.  This lead player then names the person on his right and tosses the tennis ball to that player – each person to the right of someone will be designated as the “right ball” catcher.  The tennis ball is passed consecutively to the right, as each thrower names the “right ball catcher” person to whom s/he throws.  The ball may be passed around the circle in this way two or three times, so that players become familiar with each other’s names and their “right ball catcher.”  The facilitator then removes the “right ball” from the circle.

Using a different colored ball – the red ball, another player in the group tosses it to the player on his/her left, (henceforth the “left ball catcher”) saying this player’s name.  The red ball is also passed consecutively to the left, as each thrower names the person to whom he is throwing—the “left ball catcher.”  Again, the group can do this a few times around to get the “left” names down.  The facilitator then removes the “left ball” from the circle and hands the “right ball” back to any player.

Before the throwing starts again, ask the players to scramble around to different positions in the circle (not standing next to the same players they just left—or right!?).  This second circle is position “B.”  The player with the “right ball” (tennis ball) locates the person who was on his right (the “right ball catcher”) from position “A,” names that person, and tosses the ball to that person.  That player in turn does the same thing with the player who was on his right in position “A”.  Continue this tossing process.  Should a player miss a catch for any reason, that player or another player may pick up the ball and resume play, tossing to his “right ball catcher” person.

When the “right ball” passing is well along, add the “left ball.”  The first player with the ball finds the player that was on his left before the scrambling took place (from position “A”).  Keep both balls going in their specified directions to their specific “left” or “right” people.  Don’t forget about namecalling—not the bad kind either!

Once the game is well under way, additional “left” and “right” balls may be used.  I try to stick with the same kind and color for each direction, but that’s me.  Players can also be asked to change places more than once—create a “Position C” and even a “Position D” circle in order to call out different circle positions so players have to scramble around a bit.


•What was hard about the activity?

•What would have made the activity run smoother?

•Did anyone become confused during the game?  How did you react?

•Is it okay to get confused?  What makes it not okay?

•What might be the lesson learned here?


• Add a rubber chicken to the circle.  No one wants the rubber chicken so they are going to throw it to someone else—to anyone.  What does the rubber chicken do to the process?  What might you guess the rubber chicken stands for/represents?  What sorts of “rubber chickens” turn up in your life?

• How fast can the group return to position “A”?  This is how I say it: “I’m going to time this next challenge.  How fast can you return to position “A”? – GO!

This lesson is compliments of Chris Cavert, from his book  “Games (& other stuff) for Group, Book 1: Activities to Initiate Group Discussion“.

To find more information and to contact the author, please visit:

Join us every week in November for Friday Lessons with Chris Cavert. Chris has written twelve books including Affordable Portables, Games for Group, Books 1 & 2, Games for Teachers, and If Anybody Asks Me.

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