One person in the team is selected to be ‘the willow’ and stands in an upright and rigid position in the center of a circle. On your instruction, the person in the centre of the circle (the willow) is gently passed around the circle in any direction by the spotters. The willow must keep their feet absolutely still at all times and put their trust in the rest of the team.
The objective of this exercise is to develop trust and improve teamwork through cooperation and support. It is important that you monitor safety closely throughout the exercise. Only use this activity when working with calm and supportive teams.
Resources required: None
Space Required: Small. Indoors or outdoors.
Group Size: 5 to 12 max. For larger groups split into smaller teams (just ensure you have an additional person to observe safety).
Total Time: 25 minutes
- 5 minutes to brief and set up
- 15 minutes to complete exercise (rotate between participants)
- 5 minutes to review and debrief
Willow in the Wind Team Exercise Instructions
- Before you start, teach the proper spotting technique and explain the the importance of maintaining this throughout the exercise. Spotting technique: one foot in front of another in a t-shape position, arms outstretched, elbows locked, ready and alert.
- You must then demonstrate the willow position: feet together, arms crossed with hands on shoulders, body straight and eyes closed.
- Aim for between eight to twelve participants in each group (if you have a larger group then split into smaller sub-groups for this exercise).
- Organise the group into an inward facing circle and spread large and small participants evenly to avoid any weak points in the circle.
- Select one person to be the “willow” and get them to stand in the middle of the circle.
- Ensure spotters are close together, should-to-shoulder and maintaining the correct spotting positions. At this stage, the circle should be quite tight, with spotters hands almost touching the participant in the middle.
- The willow should then allow themselves to be passed around the circle by the spotters.
- Once they feel more comfortable and have got over the initial fear of falling, spotters should then gradually ease back to allow a longer lean.
- Allow a minute or two per willow then rotate between team members, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to participate.
- Trust and support
Useful tips and guidance
The focus of the review should be on how they felt during the exercise and whether they trusted the rest of the group to support them. Get them to individually rate out of 10 whether they felt supported by the group and discuss what they could do support each other more. This will allow you to facilitate the review better and draw out the importance of trust and support when working with others.
Suggested questions for review
How did you feel when you were initially briefed on the exercise? Why did you feel this way?
Do you feel you were taken out of your comfort zone during the exercise?
How did you feel when you were first passed around the circle?
How important was it to support others in the the team?
What is a risk? Do you feel you were at risk during the activity?
Why did we do this exercise? How does this link to work you do everyday?
Can you give an example of when you have gone into a situation blind and have had to rely on others to support and help you?