Team building games and exercise

Team building activities and icebreakers are fun ways to start the process of building a strong team based on positive relationships. They can allow group members to get to know each other, practice different styles of communication, make group decisions, solve problems, work with people they wouldn’t ordinarily, test leadership skills, and laugh together. Energizers can help renew the group or release tension that may develop.

The Basics

Some key points to keep in mind when planning team-building activities and icebreakers/energisers include:

Children need to feel part of the group. In order for children to have a positive experience and remain active in the group, they need to feel like they belong.

Establishing trusting relationships between children takes time and commitment. Have a variety of on-going opportunities for children to get to know each other and work together in different ways.

It helps to start out with less threatening activities. Touching each other (eg. holding hands, etc.) can be uncomfortable for some children. You might try out an activity where the children select their own partner or
use small groups, and advance from there.

Of course, children always have the right to pass.

Whether you're teaching a class, instructing a sports session, hosting a group, or holding a staff meeting, getting to know the others in the group can be either a struggle or very fun.  Games are a great tool for getting individuals to learn about each other. They are ideal for breaking down barriers and nervousness as well as providing a positive atmosphere.

Team games and icebreakers are discussion questions or activities used to help participants relax and ease into learning situation


Using games successfully is similar to being able to tell a good story: you need to know your audience, delivery is everything, and good stories build up intensity as they go along. And props never hurt if you have them…

  • Know your audience. Before deciding which activities to use, assess the group for the following: age, familiarity with one another, purpose of the group gathering, and potential considerations for physical abilities.
  • Build in intensity. A general rule of thumb is a start with activities with limited movement, minimal physical contact, and most simple of rules, and progressively increase each of those factors. For example, start with a simple name game, then a common ground activity, and then a more active game that has some physical contact (ie, “high fives” or holding hands), and possibly an activity that has lots of motion. Generally, with youth you can move pretty quickly into highly active, or silly games that get everyone laughing. For “too-cool” teens or “very serious” adults, you need to proceed very slowly. You can always tell how things are going by the level of conversation and laughter.
  • Be very flexible. As with most games, you can change the rules to suit the group. For a group of young campers, you may want to roll a large beach ball instead of throwing an object during a name game, for teens, you may want to throw many objects simultaneously, etc.
  • Participate enthusiastically. The whole point of name games and ice breakers is to help participants break down barriers, learn something about the others in the group, and most of all… have fun. Be sure to play an active role in the game, as it is important that the campers learn something about you as well. This goes equally as well for corporate or youth groups, too!
  • Use fun props. Buy rubber chickens, silly rubber faces, fun stuffed animals, or other objects that create laughter or interest by themselves. Whenever possible, use these props in place of tennis balls, or whatever standard objects you might use. If you don’t have any, don’t worry, the activities are fun enough, fun props are just a bonus!
  • Use activities that use the same prop (or maybe none at all). For example, you may not always have a tennis ball hand for a name toss. So, instead of a tossing an object, use high fives, or winks, etc. You might only have a tennis ball rattling around in your trunk, so learn five or so games that you can use with just a ball.



Team building exercises, activities and games are a great method of bringing a group of individuals together in a fun, challenging and supportive environment. With use of team building activities, groups will learn to use problem-solving skills, identify strengths and weaknesses, improve communication and share ideas in order to complete some interesting challenges.

There is an amazing amount of flexibility in each task, with almost every challenge easily adaptable to suit groups of all ages. It does not necessarily matter whether your group completes the challenge, the key is in the facilitation of the task, ensuring that your group understands the principles and learning outcomes behind the exercises.

Even more reasons for using Team games:
  • Getting to know each other
  • Improving communication
  • Developing trust and respect for others
  • Motivating a team
  • Planning and setting action plans
  • Helping participants to learn more about themselves (strengths and weaknesses)
  • Identifying and utilising the strengths of team members
  • Having an laugh

Name Game

Form a circle, the first person to go will state and a word that describes themselves that starts with the first letter of their name followed by their first name (i.e. Giant George or Footie Fred). The following people to go will need to state all the previous people's names and finish up with their own name. If someone messes up, the previous person that went has to repeat their turn and the game continues from there. The last person to go will need to state everyone's name and then finish up by stating their name.

Animal Name Game

Participants sit in a circle, someone starts by saying their name, and animal that begins with the same letter as the first letter in their name (i.e. Chris the crocodile).  The next person in the circle would say, ‘Chris the crocodile’ and then add their own name and animal. This carries on all the way round the group until the last person has to state everyone’s name and animal and then add their own.

The Last Line

Split everyone up into groups and give them a silly sentence on a piece of paper. Tell the group that they have to make up a story, act it out, and have the story end with the sentence that you have given them.

Who am I?

Write the names of famous people (or places) on post-it notes and put the post-it notes on the back of the participants. Have the participants go to different people and have them ask each other yes/no questions to figure out who their person is. The person who finds out who they are first wins.

2 Truths and a Lie

Go around the room and have each child state two true statements about themselves and one false statement. After each person says their statement, the other participants in the group have to try to figure out which one they made up. The group are allowed to ask the speaker a limited amount of questions to figure out which statement is the lie.

Use a Chair as a Prop

Form standing circle with chair in middle. Person goes to middle & uses the chair as a prop. People on the outside have to guess what the prop is. They call out their guesses. If correct that person goes to the middle & invents a new prop. Examples could be using the chair as a bicycle or trumpet or hat etc.

Group Story

Form a circle. One person starts to tell a story. They can pass the story on the person next to them at any time. All they have to do is include the words "and then" in the context of the story. The next person in line carries on the story from where it had been left.

Speak for a Minute

Form circle. 1 person stands in middle & is given a subject to speak on. Person has to speak for 1 minute without repetition or hesitation. If one of the circle spots hesitation or repetition they shout freeze, level the accusation & if accepted attempt to finish off the minute again without repetition or hesitation..

Speak in Pairs

Pair up & face partner. Each person selects a topic. Both partners speak simultaneously for 1 minute & try and make what they are saying so interesting that their partner stops what they are talking about & listens to them..

group Juggle

Stand in a large-ish circle & throw 1 soft ball, sponge, beanbag, rolled up socks, etc to another group member. They catch it & throw to another group member. This continues until each group member has caught & thrown the ball just once. It should have ended back at the start point. Ask each group member to identify whom he or she got the ball off & whom he or she threw it to. Test this out by throwing the ball in the same original order until it arrives back at the start point. The next stage is to introduce more balls & see how many you can get moving round the circle in the original order. As many balls as people is extremely difficult.

Toilet Paper Game

Pass a roll of toilet paper around the room and tell everyone to take as much as they want (or you could tell everyone to take the amount of toilet paper that they use in an average day). After group members have taken at least one square of toilet paper, have them go around the room and share one fact about themselves for each square of toilet paper they have taken.

Interview and Introductions

Have group members pair up (if there is an odd number of people the leader can pair up with someone). Each person will take around 3-4 minutes interviewing their partner and at the end of the allotted time, everyone will introduce the person that they interviewed to the rest of the group.


Write down the names of animals that makes a distinct noise on different slips of paper. Give the slips out to everyone and tell them that they have to find the people that have the same animal without talking. Most members will start making animal noises and/or gestures. This is a fun way to put participants into groups for other activities, games or ice breakers.

We have all this in common

Divide the participants into smaller groups of 3-5. The task of the group is to find 5 things that each member of the group has in common with each other. (A restriction you may want to put is that you're not allowed to list obvious or common human characteristics i.e. I drink water, I have teeth, or I am wearing socks.) After the time is up, each group will go around and share their list of common items to everyone else.


Games What do the descriptions above mean, below some of the games from Youtube and links to reource sites.


Conscience alley
A useful technique for exploring any kind of dilemma faced by a character, providing an opportunity to analyse a decisive moment in greater detail. The class forms two lines facing each other. One person (the teacher or a participant) takes the role of the protagonist and walks between the lines as each member of the group speaks their advice. It can be organised so that those on one side give opposing advice to those on the other. When the protagonist reaches the end of the alley, she makes her decision.
Pauly's Ice Breaker Game for Friday Night Youth 2 people must face back to back. A ball will be placed in between them. Hands must be on the head at all time. Both people must simultaneously move from point A to point B without dropping the ball. It is a race against other people. The first group that get's to point B with the ball still in between them wins. If the ball is dropped, you must restart. If the hands are not touching your head, you must restart. If you and your partner are not moving sideways, you must restart    
Cross The Swamp CrossFit Team Building Game (    
Icebreakers Exercise: Human Knot

Standing in a circle, group members reach across and grab other participant’s hands. The group then tries to unravel the "human knot" by untangling themselves without letting go of each other’s hands.

If you can source a Parachute these are some of the games you can operate    
TeamWork Ferrari......... it just looks good!    

Build your own Photo Gallery for use in games. These sites provide a wide range of searchable images for download.

Link to a PDF with a list of Icebreakers, energisers and team games that can be adapted for various situations  
Youth Group Games An excellent Australian resource site with a wide range of games for all types of groups and occassions  
Venture Team Building Another excellent site this time a UK site for all types of games with instructions etc  
UltimateCampResource Site; A US summer resource camp site with a very wide range of games for all