Thumb Wrestle Mania is a fun game to be done in pairs or in teams with players rotating.
Benefits of Thumb Wrestle Mania
- Encourages healthy competition
- Produces laughter
- Requires a partner
- No props needed
How To Play Thumb Wrestle Mania as a Group Energizer
Have the group divide into pairs, to add a bit more fun, you could try some of the methods for ‘Getting into Pairs’. Instruct everybody to stretch out their hands and to grip their partner’s hand. They should curl their fingers into the other person’s hand, with the thumbs sticking out and next to each other.
Most people should be familiar with the game ‘thumb wars or wrestling,’ so starting the game should be easy for everyone. Let’s add a twist to the game and make it even more fun. Include the other hand, grip opposite hands together in the same position. Now you are working with both hands, in stereo.
Everyone is now ready to wrestle, the aim being to be the first person to pin their opponent’s thumb down, double time! Inform the group that slipping the thumb out after being pinned, is not allowed. Any pin, no matter how brief, is considered a win.
As with the original game, to get everybody ready to play, you can say the traditional ‘song’ – “One, Two, Three, Four, I declare thumb war” As you say this, each person must move their thumbs from side to side of their opponent’s thumb.
The winner is the one who gets the most wins out of five rounds. After a few rounds have everyone change partners.
Contextual Framing Ideas of Thumb Wrestle Mania
Many people feel safe and comfortable with a routine, the same thing is done over and over again. You know what’s going to happen because you are familiar with it. But sometimes you surprised them with something new, how do you adapt to change…
The following exercise is something that most people are familiar with, but there is something different about it. What will you be able to learn about yourself from this exercise? For example, do you crave competition, or do you just like to enjoy the experience?
Step-by-Step Instructions for Thumb Wrestle Mania
- Have the group form into pairs.
- Get everyone to extend both their hands and to grip the matching hand of their partner. Curl the fingers into the palm of the hand, each person’s thumb should be on top and next to each other.
- Begin by moving the thumbs from each side to the other side of your partner’s hand. The aim is to be the first one to pin a thumb down with your own thumb.
- Play for about five rounds, most pins wins.
- Change partners and play again.
Facilitators and Leadership Tips
Observing groups, you will notice some intense wrestling going on. Sometimes, you will have pairs wrestling each other to the ground, producing much laughter from all involved.
Always be conscious of what your group is capable of. Are they ready to participate in some healthy competition, which will be fun for all, or will it just be an opportunity for those who excel to show off their abilities?
Debriefing and Reflection Tips
Here are some questions to ask the group, which will help them to process their experience of playing the game ‘Thumb Wrestle Mania’
- Was there something different you observed playing this version, instead of the one-handed version?
- Was there any strategy you used, in order to pin your partner’s thumb?
- How did you feel when your thumb was pinned?
- Did you win? What does it really mean to win, is it important?
Variations of Thumb Wrestle Mania
- Swap sides: Playing the game, the arms are crossed over each other. Swap the arms around, one on top of the other.
- More players: Instead of just two players, introduce three or four together. Use the same grip, bring everyone’s hands and palms close to each other. There is an opportunity in this version to form things like alliances, to get together with another player and pin another player first.
- Large Groups: This can be done with a group who stands in a circle, have every second person in the circle cross over to grip their neighbour’s same hand. When both thumbs have been pinned, this person is then eliminated. The last person standing then wins the game.