An icebreaker game, activity, or exercise is a great way to kick off a class, workshop, meeting, or group gathering. Icebreakers can:
- Serve as introductions for strangers
- Facilitate conversation
- Encourage group interaction
- Build trust
- Energize group members
- Encourage teamwork
- Build team skills
Icebreaker games are most effective in groups of three or more people. To give you an example of how an icebreaker works, we're going to take a look at a classic icebreaker game that can be used for both small and large groups. This icebreaker game is traditionally known as the Ball Game.
How to Play the Classic Ball Game
The classic version of the Ball Game is designed to be used as an icebreaker for a group of strangers who have never met each other. This icebreaker game is perfect for a new class, workshop, study group, or project meeting.
Ask all of the participants to stand in a circle. Make sure they are not too far apart or too close together. Give one person a small ball (tennis balls work well) and ask them to throw it to someone else in the circle. The person who catches it says their name and throws it to another person who does the same. As the ball moves around the circle, everyone in the group gets to learn one another's name.
Ball Game Adaptation for People Who Are Acquainted With Each Other
The classic version of the Ball Game doesn't work very well if everyone in the group knows each other's names. However, the game can be adapted for people who are acquainted with each other but still don't know each other very well. For example, members of various departments within an organization might know each other's names, but since they don't work closely together on a daily basis, they might not know very much about each other. The Ball Game can help people get to know each other better. It also works well as a team-building icebreaker.
As with the original version of the game, you should ask group members to stand in a circle and take turns tossing a ball to each other. When someone catches the ball, they will state something about themselves. To make this game easier, you could establish a topic for the answers. For example, you could establish that the person catching the ball has to state their favorite color before tossing the ball to the next person, who will also call out their favorite color.
Some other sample topics for this game include:
- Say one thing you like about your job
- Describe yourself in one word
- Name your favorite book
- Identify your biggest strength
- Identify your biggest weakness
Ball Game Tips
- Be sure that you remind participants to throw the ball gently so that nobody gets hurt.
- Make this icebreaker game more fun by timing the exercise and seeing how fast the participants can get the ball around the circle.
- Try to select a topic that fits the participants and the goal of the icebreaker.