The World of Work Project

The Tennis Ball Game Team Building Activity

The Tennis Ball Game Team Building Activity is a fairly simple team building game. It requires a group of people to attempt to pass a tennis ball between themselves as quickly as possible.

Summary by The World of Work Project

The Tennis Ball Game Team Building Activity

This team building activity works well with groups of about 6-8. It’s best where there are multiple groups of the same size, so they can compete against each other. This activity requires a fair bit of space, reasonably active participants and some tennis balls, juggling balls, oranges or even eggs if you want to bring some extra “danger” to proceedings.

The activity works by getting each team to work together to pass a tennis ball (or whatever object you choose) between their members as quickly as possible. Like most activities of this nature, there’s a specific way to do it that results in very fast times.

Oranges which can be used in the The Tennis Ball Game Team Building Activity
Oranges can make a great substitute for tennis balls.

The Preparation

To prepare for this game all you really need to do is to ensure that you’ve got an appropriate location for the game, that you have enough objects so that every team can have one and that you’re able to explain the rules clearly.

The Activity

Start this activity by dividing your participants into evenly sized groups of between 6 and 8 people. Next, give each group a tennis ball (or similar object). Once you have these groups established, explain the rules of the activity.

The rule are simple. Each group needs to pass the ball between all the members of the group so that everyone has touched it and it returns to the original holder as quickly as possible. Only one person can touch the ball at at time. The teams will have 3 minutes to practice, then there will be a race.

After three minutes the facilitator gets everyone to their starting positions and starts the race. The team that completes the activity in the fastest time wins.

After the winner has been announced they can receive a token prize. There may be benefit in some feedback about the event, there may not.

A dog with a tennis ball, as used in The Tennis Ball Game Team Building Activity
Doesn’t look like this pup would break any records at the tennis ball game!

Learning More

Team building and ice-breaking activities are very important. They help build trust in teams and help progress team maturity. They can also reduce the risks of social threat and improve interpersonal awareness.

Being able to deliver them is a helpful facilitation and meeting skill. A few specific activities we’ve written about include: Weekend Chairs, Birthday Ordering, Vegetable Introductions, Two Truths and a Lie, and the Questions Cocktail Party.

Laughter and play are also great ways to help build a team. You can learn more about how playfulness helps teams in our podcast on the subject:

The World of Work Project View

The Tennis Ball Game Team Building Activity is a decent activity that brings some creative thinking, competition and physical activity to group events.

Most teams will start by playing catch, roughly. They’ll stand in a circle and pass the object around as quickly as possible. At some point someone will realize that the group members simply need to touch the ball and that it needs to return to the person who starts with it. They’ll then probably try to achieve this by dropping the ball through a cluster of hands, with the person dropping it also stooping down to collect it. In this way, they’ll be able to complete the exercise in very little time at all.

Overall we think this is a nice active activity. But it only works once with each group because once people know the secret, the puzzle, excitement and benefits of the activity are eliminated.

Sources and further reading

Where possible we always recommend that people read up on the original sources of information and ideas.

This post is based on our experiences facilitating workshops and events. There are no specific references for it.

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