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Team Building - Activity of the Month
September 2010, Willow in the Wind
9/1/2010 1:05:33 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment


This can involve 8-12 participants. It is normally used to begin teaching spotting techniques and to prepare teams for later initiatives involving greater physical trust. Gather the team in a circle, standing shoulder to shoulder, facing toward the center
of the circle. 

Explain and demonstrate the spotting technique: feet shoulder width apart, knees flexed, backs straight. Arms should be bent at the elbow, palms facing the center, fingers in tight. 

One team member stands in the center of the circle, with arms folded across his or her chest. This center person is instructed to stand with feet together (to create a pivot point), and with back straight ("pretend there is a 2x4 running from your head to your heels"). Upon giving the correct spotting commands, the member in the center gently leans back into the hands of the team members in the circle. As the team member in the center remains rigid, the circle gently passes him or her around several times. There should always be at least 3 sets of hands on the person at all times so that no one person ever supports all the weight of the person in the center. Spotters eyes should be focused on the "willow", and the spotters should try to be quiet, allowing the "willow" to relax and enjoy the ride. 

When signaled, the team changes the direction and then carefully brings the person back to an upright position. Each team member should have the opportunity to get into the middle. Not everyone will want to.  As a facilitator, make sure nobody "volunteers" someone else.  

SPOTTING COMMANDS: Person in the center folds arms across chest and asks, "Spotters ready?" The circle responds, "Ready!" The center person then double-checks, "Falling", the circle replies, "Fall on!" This will most likely take some coaching from you, but you should insist that this process is followed every time.
  • Make sure that the team has demonstrated a certain level of maturity before attempting this activity. 
  • Be sure to present this as a serious activity, one that requires specific spotting techniques.
  • The person in the center should interlace their fingers and then intertwine their arms before hugging them in to their chest. This is to prevent the natural response of flailing the arms and inadvertently hitting someone in the face.
  • The team members on the circle should flip baseball caps backward to prevent "billing" anyone.
  • Center person should remove baseball caps.
  • Spotters should compensate for shorter "willows" by bending their knees to lower their spotting position.
Trust - Ask, "How was trust demonstrated in this activty?" 
Was trust important?  Why?
When is trust important in your real work together as a team?  Give examples.
How do we build trust with other people?
Support - Ask, "How did it feel to be physically supported by your team members in this exercise?"
At work, what types of support can be important to success?  Give examples.
Is it more difficult to give support or to receive support from others?  Explain.
How does "supporting each other" contribute to building trust?
Reliance - Ask, "Is it difficult to rely on others?  Explain."
Is it important to be able to rely on your team members?  Why?
How is "reliance" on each other connected to building trust with each other?  Explain.  Give real examples.
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