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Team Building - Article 2


Games in which inhibitions are lessened, or activities for individuals to get to know one another, have fun, and take some risks would be called ice-breakers. As the saying goes, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression". This is certainly applicable to successful team building. Start with a bang. Make the activity an attention grabber that leads and motivates the group into the rest of the day's activities. Begin with a high-energy initiative that immediately captures the attention of the participants. An exciting beginning can serve as a bridge from the current to the next level of involvement and sets the tone for future challenges. Here is one example for a simple icebreaker. It incorporates competition, problem solving and communication.

Title: Bean Bag Shuffle

One stop watch for each team

An open field or gym

Divide your group into two or three teams of 6-8 individuals

Set up:

  1. Provide each team with one small bean bag (you can buy them in a store or make your own).
  2. Have the teams stand in a circle, any size they choose.
  3. Set the challenge: the goal of this activity is to see how fast you can pass the bean bag from person to person so that everyone in the group has to have completely handled the bean bag and individually passed it on to another team member (in other words, simply "touching" the bean bag does not count as "holding and passing individually").
  4. Assign a stop watch coach (make sure it is a trust worthy, competent timekeeper) to each group.
  5. On the signal, "ready, set, go," teams begin to pass the bean bag around the circle as fast as they think they can but still following all of the rules
  1. Establish a winner based on time. Record that time.
  2. Now ask, "Can they do it faster?" Let them try. Continue to record the times for each team.
  3. Can you do it faster still?
Eventually teams will learn that they can move very close together and make an even smaller circle so that it almost looks like a big mob of people. Then, they will learn that they can hand and pass the beanbag much faster, more efficiently, and all in one motion if they change their distance from one another and alter their team's configuration.

Debriefing Lessons:
At first, they'll think that winning is the only goal or that winning is when they simply "beat" another team. Ultimately, you want them to come to see, that what they initially thought was good enough, fast enough and successful enough can actually be made better and faster. It is the same principle we learn in sport. With planning, motivation and ingenuity, they can learn skills and strategies to keep lowering their previous best time and therefore improve overall "team" performance.

That debriefing message can have season-long implications no matter what the age, level or sport you play.

Have fun!

© Dr. Colleen Hacker

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