The activity fosters focus, concentration, sensitivity, communication and interaction among participants.
Size of Group
The activity is ideal for 9 to 15 participants.
- 15 – 30 soft balls
- Ask your group to form a circle. You will also form part of the circle with the throwables within easy reach.
- Explain: “I’m going to start by tossing this ball to someone else in the circle. If you receive it, toss it to someone else in the circle not immediately on either side of you. That person will toss it to another person who has not yet received it and again not immediately on either side of him or her. Throwing continues until the last person tosses the ball back to me. Remember who you tossed to because we will try to recreate the pattern in the next phase. Any questions?”
- Toss the ball to someone across from you. The cycle continues until the ball comes back to you. Repeat one more time so that everyone is clear who they toss the ball to and from whom they receive it. The ball must follow the same pattern both times.
- Explain: “Now we are going to try to repeat the process, but we are going to see how many balls we can keep up in the air at any one time. Any questions?” Once any questions have been answered, toss the ball to the first person. As soon as they toss the ball, grab another one from your stash and toss it. Repeat until a) there is exactly the number of balls going as there are participants (an almost Herculean task) or b) the process begins to break down. Notice how many balls the group has going, and retrieve them as they come back to you.
- Inform the group as to how many balls they had in the air when they were doing their best. Ask the group to consider how they might improve their performance. Typical modifications allow for participants to move their position, make agreements as to how they will throw to each other (e.g., “I’ll toss mine to you high” or “I’ll roll mine across the floor”), agree to pause the process when one ball goes awry, etc.
- Begin the process again. Typically the group will improve the number. When finished, ask the group to reflect upon their success (or lack thereof).
- Lots of energy; if you select different colored balls, there is an exciting visual effect.
- This activity works well early in a program. You can ask each participant to call out the name of the person they are throwing to if they still need to learn others’ names.
- Consider adding in some different throwables. Rubber chickens work well, as do fleece balls.
Guide Questions for Processing
- How do you stay focused?
- Looking back at the group’s performance in the activity, in what areas could you still improve?
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