Virtual Team Building Events

Activity Description

Leaky Pipe Challenge Team Building

Place a ping pong ball into a pipe, which is drilled full of holes. The group now needs to recover the ball using water, before the allotted time runs out.  In order to get this right the groups are supplied with a bucket full of water and a number of cups. The groups are expected to finish the exercise by working together and overcoming any difficulties.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

  • Improves Communication
  • Builds Teamwork
  • Management Skills
  • Troubleshooting

Required Resources (per team)  

2 buckets of water,

2 ping pong balls,


2 pipes drilled with holes (can be purchased from plumbing specialist store)

Space Required: Small to Medium Space with access to a water source. Outdoors only.

Group Size: 8 to 12 ideally, but can be done with 6 to 15 participants.

Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 5 minutes to brief and setup
  • 20 minutes to achieve outcome
  • 5 minutes to review and debrief

Running the Leaky Pipe Challenge Team Building Activity

  • Split the group into smaller teams (or keep as one large group and challenge them to fill two pipes instead of one).
  • Introduce the pipes to the teams and explain they will need to try and retrieve the ping pong ball placed inside. To complete the challenge, each team will receive a bucket of water (which is placed 10 metres away from the pipe) and several cups.They must work together to fill the pipe with water and collect the ball from the top of the pipe.
  • Give them a total of twenty minutes to complete the challenge. If you opt for two teams, then the team that retrieves the ball the quickest wins the challenge.

Rules of Leaky Pipe Challenge

  • The groups are not allowed to invert the pipe.
  • The bucket full of water must remain where it was put. This means the only means of transporting the water, is by making use of the cups supplied.

Activity Guidance and Notes

All members of the group will have to cooperate with each other, transporting the water in the bucket to the pipe by making use of the cups provided. They need to fill the pipe in order to allow the ping pong ball to float to the top. However, because the pipe is full of holes, they will be required to block theses holes in order for the water to rise higher in the pipe.

If the task becomes too hard for the group, then they can block the holes using tape. However, if the exercise becomes too easy for them, then you can tell the group to remain silent for the duration of the task. You could also make them transport the water from the bucket, passing from hand to hand, as they stand in a row.

Debrief and Review

Here are some questions you can ask to help the group process this exercise:

  • Did you come across any difficulties while doing this challenge? What did you do to master these difficulties?
  • Did you come up with a plan at the beginning of the challenge?
  • Was everyone cooperative in sharing opinions or suggest an answer?
  • Was cooperation vital for this exercise? Is it possible for you to complete this challenge on your own?
  • Can you state what the crucial features for a successful team are?
  • Was there cooperation between all the team members? How was this accomplished?
  • How was the interaction between the group during the challenge?
  • Was it necessary to change your plan during the challenge? And if so, how did you go about it?

Facilitator Briefing Notes


Your challenge is to retrieve a ping pong ball at the bottom of the leaky pipe as quickly as possible. To complete the challenge, you will be provided with a bucket of water and several plastic cups.

Sound easy?

The catch is each drain pipe has holes drilled into the sides and your bucket cannot be moved.

The team that retrieves the ball the quickest wins the challenge.


  • You cannot tip over or reach into the pipe to retrieve the ball.
  • The bucket of water cannot be moved. The only way to transport the water is through the cups provided.
  • You cannot steal water from the other teams.
  • You cannot sabotage the other teams in any way.
  • Failure to follow the rules above will result in starting the challenge over again.

Leaky Pipe Challenge Team Building

Basic Details
Property Type : Team Building
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Team Building
Focus On : Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Having Fun, Problem Solving
Outcome Based : Yes
Duration : 6 - 15 minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16, 17 - 30, 31+
Age : Children, Youth, Adults