By Amy Harder
Wanna see if your team is in sync with each other? …working together? This simple group warm-up game illustrates the need for teamwork and stresses the importance of focusing on a particular task no matter what else is happening. Now, grab some bean bags and a bunch of friends and get juggling!
Setup. For this game you’ll need at least 6 people, but the more the merrier–I’ve done this with groups that approached thirty! You’ll also need small, soft beanbags. Grab at least 3 beanbags, but you may want to have more on hand… How many more? That depends on the size of your group.
Gather yourselves into a circle, with room enough between each person that you won’t endanger each other as you throw and catch the beanbags.
Action. Designate one person to be the starter, the instigator of the silliness about to ensue, and give that person one beanbag. The starter (A) begins by tossing the beanbag to any other person in the group (F). The receiver then tosses the beanbag to any other person in the group (D), and so on (H, C, etc.) until every person has been a receiver (no repeats). The last person to receive then throws the beanbag back to the starter.
Sounds pretty simple, eh? The trick is to remember to whom you’ve thrown the bag, because you have to repeat the exact same pattern again. (Starter must throw to the same person as before, who in turn throws it to the same person as before, who throws it to the same person, etc.) Go through your pattern a couple of times before moving on.
Once your group has the hang of this, you’ll need to make things a little more difficult. After the starter has thrown the first beanbag, give him another beanbag to add to the pattern. Now you should have two beanbags bouncing around your circle in a distinct pattern. Add another beanbag. See how many you can get going without messing up.
Variation. This can be a great get-to-know-you game as well. Just have the thrower say the name of the receiver when he throws. Now teammembers don’t have to remember everybody’s name, just the name of the person to whom they’re throwing. Warning: it can get kinda noisy if you’re up to say, 12 beanbags.
Wrap up. Did you notice that the more beanbags you added to the mix, the more concentration you had to have? And your focus had to be in two places: to the person throwing to you (so you don’t get clobbered) and to the person receiving your toss (so you don’t catch ‘em off-guard with a beanbag to the snout). In any kind of performing, you have to be attentive to the other performers (even the audience) around you. You have to be alert for lines and actions to be handed to you, and you have to know that other actors are ready for your lines as well. It’s a give-and-take that requires concentration and awareness. Use this game to demonstrate this principle and encourage teammembers to work together.