Throw the Ball

Introduce an imaginary ball to be thrown between plenary participants.

For introductions or for any other 'all inclusive' plenary exercise.

Builds a positive group dynamic. Theoretical background: Martin Buber: in order to create a 'We', we first need to create 'I-Thou' relationships within the group.

Prepare a concise question in advance and set a time limit: eg "Say who you are and why you are here in no more than 70 seconds".

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What is ‘Throw the ball’?

Instruction to Participants

Here is the question;

  • Who would like to begin? - then, when they are through:
  • Who would you like to hear from next? - You may also want to check who looks as though they would like to speak

Note to Facilitators

You can set an example by giving your own response to the question, and then throw an imaginary ball to the next person you would like to hear from.

Step back as soon as it appears to be running itself. Only intervene if a problem arises - like someone aggressively targeting another person who clearly isn't ready (rare, but has happened) or running a lot over time. Ask for the ball 'back' when everyone has spoken, and ‘put’ it in a safe place to use again.

Stick to the imaginary ball even offline - don't try using a physical one. Totally different dynamic.

When is Throw the Ball used?

For introductions, or for any other plenary exercise when you would like each person’s voice to be heard; for example, to say in a very few words how they experienced the format of a particular exercise.

This model was elaborated by Erhard Fleck.

  • Awareness Raising
  • Empowerment
  • Group communication
  • Opener
  • Social skills
  • Team Building / Trust Building
Innovation Phases
    Train the Trainer seminars including Throw the Ball can be found here: