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Friday, May 10, 2013

Managing Large Groups and Choosing Teams

This past semester, I took a class called Social Recreation Leadership. In this class, we learned the importance of creatively choosing teams, how to involve everyone, and keep the fun going. My professor has taught this class for 25 years, and these are his guidelines for leading activities. This is the fifth post out of five about guidelines for leading activities.

These guidelines are not intended to work in all situations. Guideline application requires leadership. You must decide what activities to use in different conditions. Leaders must be alert to potential problems and adjust quickly. Maximum fun and participation in a safe environment is the goal.

Choosing Sides, Teams, or Partners
            Choosing sides can be an embarrassing and anxious experience for many people. Avoid friend-choosing-friend and leaving someone out. Be creative and fun in dividing people into groups. Here are a few ideas on how to choose sides, teams, or partners:
  • Clasp hands – the hand on top is in a group and the hand on bottom is in a group
  • Name tags - different colors to signify different teams
  • Birthdays
  • Clothing/jewelry items
  • Hold up fingers
  • Left thumb/right pinky
  • Fold arms/left arm on top is one group, etc.
  • Number of letters in first name – odds/evens
  • Eye color
  • Height
  • Wink – left or right
  • Animal sounds
  • Choices of fruits, vacations, etc.
  • Folders/scrunchers
  • Count off by 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, etc.

            Once groups are formed, you can put the groups together in various combinations throughout the program. Groups make formations easier.

If a Relay is Moving too Slow
  • Make teams smaller
  • Use shuttle relays
    • Half the team is on one side and half on the other side. The relay moves twice as fast and doubles the participation. 
Promoting Team Spirit
  • Have a 'team yell' competition
  • Use group leaders to foster team spirit
  • Use lots of team skits, cheers, and group contests
Creative Ways to Finish Group Races
  • Form a pyramid
  • Sit down and raise hands
  • Sing a song

Teams are not Even in Number
  • Have some people run more than once
  • Use group leaders/staff members to even the teams

People are Standing around and Watching
            While we cannot force everyone to participate, you should make every effort to involve him/her, sometimes without him/her realizing it. If you are doing the activities for a larger group, try a test run with a few people to hopefully find any possible problems and fix them. Here are some ideas on how to keep people from standing around and watching:
  • Make groups smaller
    • Example: In a group of 100, more will participate if the group is divided into 10 smaller groups with one leader over each rather than 10 leaders over a group of 100.
  • Have participants help you. Make them judges and officials
  • Modify the rules
  • Quickly change games
Please share your insights on leading groups and choosing teams in comments below.

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