Fast Ball from Chris Cavert’s Portable Teambuilding Activities

Portable Teambuilding Activities by Chris Cavert is full of experiential games and initiative problems with a wide range of challenge levels. Some can be played for 10 minutes; others need 30 minutes or more. These activities can be used with middle and high school students, college students, and adult groups of all ages and backgrounds. All the activities can be resources to add to powerful and positive pro-social development programs. What makes this book extra special are the personal notes from Chris—sharing what he knows and has learned over the years; experiential nuggets.

 

FAST BALL

Activity Objective: Players are challenged to move a safe tossable object to each person as quickly as possible.

Facilitated Objective: cooperation, communication, brainstorming, problem solving, goal setting, failing forward (trial & error), and phantom rules (false beliefs)

Needs & Numbers: One timing device and one safe tossable object is needed for a group of 8 to 24 players. If game spots (like rope rings or poly spots) are available, have one for each player. However, spots are not required.

Time: 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the level of paradigm shift thinking)

 

Procedure

Circle up your group of players for directions (Note: A circle formation is not required for the activity, but don’t reveal this fact). Explain that everyone will stand on his or her spot. If physical game spots are not being used, simply tell everyone that “where you are standing when you catch the tossable object is your spot”—and say no more. (Note: This “spot” concept is an important factor for this activity.)

Once participants are standing on/in their spots, toss the object to someone in the group. Inform the group that this will be a timed activity. The time starts when the first toss is made and stops when everyone is standing in the spot of the player each participant tossed the object to (e.g., if you toss to Peter, you need to end up standing in the spot Peter was standing on when he caught the object).

This activity has turned out to be an interesting discovery. At first the solution seems to be quite straightforward. However, its simplicity “is an outward semblance that misrepresents” (disguises) the true nature of the activity.

The Rules (these should be simply stated):

  1. Every player must toss AND catch the object at least once.
  2. After tossing the object you must occupy the spot of the person you tossed it to.
  3. No two people can occupy the same spot.
  4. (Optional) Tosses can be made to anyone other than the players standing to either side of you.

 

Safety

I have not observed any physical safety issues during this activity as the solution does not require fast movements. However, I have seen some groups get rather frustrated. Be sure to monitor the communication so that you can step in if emotional safety is being compromised.

 

Facilitation

Some groups may have a few questions before they get started. Most can be answered by referring back to the directions. The answer to questions like, “Do we have to stay in a circle formation?” depend on the situation. I answer based on the amount of time I have for the activity—less restrictions to an activity tend to extend its time to completion.

When I throw the object in to start the game, it is sometimes a random choice; other times, I choose someone who might benefit from a leadership experience. However, this does not guarantee this person assumes the leadership role.

Spoiler Alert! (If you want to try this one first, do not read on.) You might be asking, “What’s the big deal? Seems like a pretty easy task.” Here’s the rub—if players choose to move to the spot of the players to which they have tossed immediately, the activity will not end; it becomes a perpetual loop. Think about it. No spot can be occupied by more than one player, so movement would have to be continuous. Now, look at rule three. It says, “After tossing…” but it does not specify precisely when. So, to complete the activity, following the rules (as far as I have determined to this point), all tosses should be made first AND THEN everyone moves to his or her designated spot and time stops! Hmm, interesting. Have a go. See what you think.

 

Observations/Questions

  • What was your initial reaction to the activity after it was presented? Did this reaction change over time? Why?
  • How were you limited during this activity? Who gave you those limits? (Note: Limits other than the rules for the activity could be explored as “phantom rules.” Who sets these rules?)
  • Think back to any of the planning sessions you had, what did they sound like? Look like? How were ideas shared during the planning session(s)? How could the planning session(s) have been more effective?
  • What were some of the challenges you encountered during the activity? What were some of the surprises you encountered? Describe what happened within the group when the challenges and surprises were encountered.
  • Did anyone foresee the solution to this challenge? If so, why was this foresight not shared (or heard)? And if it was heard, why was it not considered?
  • Did anyone feel “tricked” at any time during the activity? Explain how you believe you were tricked? Where do you think this feeling comes from? How might this feeling help you? How might this feeling hinder you?
  • Are we able to foresee the outcomes of all that we plan? (Of course not.) What are some behaviors you would like to consider keeping when unforeseeable instances occur? And, what behaviors would you like to avoid during such instances?

 

Variation

Hand everyone a spot. After the directions are given, have the group decide what configuration they want to make. A circle is still a possibility but not a requirement. I have seen two lines facing each other, which avoids possible complications of rule two as tosses are made across to the other line. A scattered formation is also interesting—no one is directly to the right or left if set up with this in mind.

Fastball can also be a good group goal-setting activity. There have been instances where I impose a goal of a very low time as a way to (hopefully) get the participants to make a shift in thinking.

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