This exercise is used to impart trust and an active balance initially between two people, and then progressing among others in the group.
Benefits of the Human Spring Team Building Ice-Breaker Activity
- Encourages trust
- Activity with partner
- No props needed
This exercise is very active, so arrange to play this activity in an appropriate time slot during a program. First, allow the group to do some warm-up exercises, but also be aware of the group’s emotional state before you start.
Get the group to pair off and face their partner, about an arm’s length away. They must then put their arms in front of them, with their palms facing their partner.
Explain to them they need to proceed slowly and stress to them the word slowly. They need to lean forward toward their partner in front of them until both of their hands meet in the middle. They will now be standing, with their arms slightly bent, and palms touching, which will have a springy type of feeling. This is great because it is what you want, however, if heads bang it means that there is too much spring.
They now need to gently push off from each another at the same time. After a little practice, they will be able to lean in towards each other and then push gently back again. So, then the ‘spring’ action can go on and on without much effort.
The aim of this exercise is to create rhythm and trust between the two partners. This allows them to tune into their partner’s movements. The aim is not to try and see who can push their partner over first. Give them enough time to get into the rhythm and then you can swap partners.
Contextual Ideas of the Human Spring Team Building Activity
Have you ever been to a tennis match or just watched it on the TV? The spectators seated in the middle of the court keep their eye on the ball and their heads keep moving from side to side. Very similar to the ticking of a grandfather clock; the pendulum moves from side to side and seems to have a very soothing effect.
This is the type of rhythm you must try and encourage for this activity, a gentle back and forth motion.
If you have two equal forces meeting together, there is no movement. This is known as “Isometric Forces’. However, if you have one force that is stronger than another, you will have movement taking place, which will result in the balance shifting. This is the goal of this exercise. Even though our strengths are different, we are all able to adapt to the needs of others in order to produce an equal force.
Step-by-Step Instructions of the Human Spring Team Building Activity
- Get groups to pair off and face each other, standing about an arm’s length apart.
- Their feet need to be spread about a shoulder’s width apart, and their arms must be lifted above their heads with the palms facing their partners.
- As soon as they are ready, they must both lean in very slowly, repeat very slowly, towards their partner. They must move in until both their hands are touching in the middle.
- They must then very gently push with their hands away from their partner, causing a spring action.
- They can continue with this action, leaning forward and then springing back again, until they have obtained a relaxed rhythm. Trust is also developed with their partner.
- After everyone is finished, they can then swap partners and start the exercise all over again.
Facilitator and Leaders Tips
To start with you might suggest that the group pair off with someone of their same height. Be vigilant and watch for those who are becoming overenthusiastic and correct it before it becomes a problem.
Take note that this is not an exercise to use at the start of a program. If you do, you will soon find out that you will be breaking more than just the ice. You need to get your group to a balanced level of safety-consciousness, emotionally, physically and also mentally before you present this activity.
This exercise is very forceful and therefore everyone needs to be properly prepared. If you don’t, you might find some of the group isolating themselves, which could possibly result in a few minor injuries.
The best form of contact between the participants is the flat hand or palm, but some prefer to use a clenched fist, which can also be effective.
Instruct the group not to interlink their fingers, as it is more difficult to unlock when necessary and may also result in injured fingers.
Debriefing and Reflection Strategies
Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them in processing their experience of the trust-building exercise of ‘Human Spring’:
- What did you notice while the exercise was in progress?
- What was the hardest part of the exercise for you? How did you resolve it?
- What do you think that this exercise taught you, regarding your relationship with others?
- Middle Start: Start this exercise by leaning forward and touching your partner’s hands, then both push at the same time to get back to the upright standing position. To make the exercise more challenging, after each ‘spring,’ move your feet backwards.
- Pick Your Challenge: If your group is properly prepared, then have them attempt some of the following variations:
- Get them to stand with their feet together and not slightly apart.
- Stand further away from each other.
- Try using one hand only.
- Make use of both hands but cross your arms.
- Try with your legs crossed.
- For other exercises of this nature try ‘Isometric Stretch’, where people exert an equal force between each other.