Form a large circle, with each person standing on a ‘spot,’ eg shoe, chalk-mark.
Place yourself in the centre of the circle (you do not have a spot.)
An individual may, at any time, swap spots with another person standing on the other side of the circle, while attempting to prevent the person in the centre of the circle (you) from stealing an empty spot.
Each person aims to swap to a new spot as many times as possible in the time allocated.
When both spots are re-occupied, the person who is left stranded without a spot becomes the new person in the centre of the circle.
Alert your group to the possibility of collisions, whereby all movements should aim to avoid contact with other people.
Continue playing until the time has expired, or the energy of your group starts to wane.
Video Transcript for Commitment presented by Nate Folan
I want to continue building some energy. Maybe provide a little bit of challenge, but also as we engage in some of this process especially as we move through a day or through a program is looking at more of this idea around a commitment. A commitment that you make to each other. Maybe a commitment to a goal associated with a challenge or a project that you’re working on, whatever that might be.
So the overall theme of this activity is around commitment, and it’s actually called Commitment.
The way it’s going to work is I’m going to start in the centre of the group in here, and my goal is to get out of the centre of the circle. The way that I’m going to do that is look for an open spot. So any spot that’s open. So all of you right now would probably want to step onto a spot because I might just go for it.
However at the beginning, the only way a spot is open is by two people on the outside of the circle making a commitment to switch with one another, and the commitment could be really subtle and sort of covert. It can kind of be the head nod, this without any even verbal exchange. Sort of this head nod and switch. Could someone just demonstrate that?
(Two people nod and switches places in the circle.)
Right, boom. So as this is happening there’s a commitment. Now I should be going for one of these spots, but I wanted to model the switch of a commitment and a switch, right? And it’s moving at a pace that feels right within this space.
There’s also a safety piece being aware as more and more people move throughout the circle. That we’re just not colliding with one another. Having that general awareness. Again my goal is to get to a spot when it becomes open.
When you make a commitment, not only the agreement either non-verbally or overtly verbally. Like hey let’s switch! That all works too. Right?
Once you leave your spot, you can’t go back. You’ve got to make that commitment, and let’s be clear if I run up to Dave and say get off my spot, that’s not a commitment to switch. It’s truly a commitment, right? We’re not bumping people off in that way. Is that making sense?
(Well we need eye contact.)
We had eye contact, I’m pretty sure we did, but once you leave your spot you’re going. So at this point are there any questions with that?
(How often do you have to move?)
As often as you like. There’s a lot of choice in this matter, and you’ll notice by the results of your choice individually as well as the collective choice what experience we have with the activity. Great. So when you’re ready, I’m ready.
(Group pauses a moment and then commitments begin.)
(Sorry I got really nervous.)
Now clearly, it’s Liz right? Did I get it right?
Clearly what happens is, I’ve made it to a spot sadly you did not in this moment.
(Someone else left there’s)
Yes, and in this moment you’re simply waiting. Whoever is now in this circle is waiting for those commitments to switch. Does that make sense?
(So you’re committed to the person that you’ve made eye contact with, right? You can’t like jump ship and like that one’s open. Somebody took mine.)
Yeah, generally speaking you want to try and make that commitment right now. We’re going to layer this and open some different opportunities to it.
However, there is a moment that if I took your spot if I’m in the centre you’re trying to get to a spot. So it becomes a little more fluid in that moment. Okay, when you’re ready we can move to switching again.
(Group makes commitments with each other switching who is in the centre.)
Okay. Let’s hold it here. Brian if you want to come back in.
So we want to add a layer to this, and you’ll notice in you know different ways people were moving in making those commitments. We’re going to keep that happening. Right, and again it can be really subtle, really overt whatever it might be, and challenging.
However, to increase the challenge of this, there’s some open spot that have occurred. And you might be thinking where we’re going next, but we’re going to layer this just a bit. Is that at any point in this next level if an open spot appears next to you, you can simply slide to the left or the right. It’s very sly, it’s very subtle, just a slight shift. It’ll bump everything else, potentially. Does that make sense?
So same thing we’ve got the commitment. Now we simply have a slide to the left or a slide to the right as a spot becomes open. You can go for that spot. Great? Ready when you are.
(Group begins the new level of commitments.)
There’s a good moment.
(Continues with activity)
So pause here. As you’re playing this you’ve making the commitments. People were moving, you’ve got the slide happening a couple of times. How many of you even in the first round might have been like, “You know what open spot I’m going for it? I can make it there.” Anyone there? Maybe, maybe not.
This level, this round is what that’s about. You still have that commitment to make with another person if you want. You can slide to the left or slide to the right when it becomes open, and if there’s a spot that you think “I can make it there.” It’s all you.
Just challenging yourself, going for it. The thing to be clear is your actions will impact others simply, and it might be a helpful action like oh take my spot. I’ll go help someone else. Right? Help me! Sorry this one’s taken. It might be helpful, it might be hindering.
Just be aware of what happens. So when you’re ready making all those commitments, making the switches, making the opportunities to challenge yourself.
(Switch is made.)
How To Play Narrative
For something completely different (!) ask your group to form a large circle, with each person standing on a ‘spot’ (a shoe, or chalk-mark works fine.)
Place yourself in the centre, and explain to the group that anyone at anytime is entitled to leave the shelter of their ‘spot’ in an attempt to swap spots with another person on the other side of the circle.
Typically, this commitment is initiated when two people eye each other from across the circle, give each other the nod to ‘GO’ and move with velocity to swap their respective spots.
However, at any time someone leaves a spot unoccupied, the person in the centre may choose to steal it. In which case, one of the parties who was in the process of moving spots will become the (next) centre person.
Naturally, when both spots are re-occupied, the person who is left stranded without a spot becomes the new person in the centre of the circle.
As you can imagine, you will need to alert your group to the possibility of collisions. I will sometimes add a further ‘rule’ that says all moves must be accomplished without touching anyone in the process, in an effort to increase awareness of others.
The object is to see how many ‘swaps’ one can make before losing their spot to the centre person. If keeping score is important to your group, suggest that each person counts a point for every successful swap they make to compare notes later.
Continue playing until time has expired, or just play full-out until everyone is exhausted.
On top of being an excellent warm-up and energiser, this exercise is a great introduction to a discussion about safety and commitment – what worked, what didn’t, what happened when intentions where thwarted, etc.
Practical Leadership Tips
By all means, use rubber poly-spots or gym-spots to mark where people should stand in the circle. Your group can also be seated in chairs.
The larger the circle, the better. It provides more space for movement in the centre, and adds a little more risk to anyone’s endeavour to swap spots.
To reiterate, caution your group about the possibility of collisions. No matter how hard people try, inadvertent clashes will occur, but the higher your group’s level of safety consciousness, the less likely these occurrences will harm someone.
Further to above, if you observe a succession of risky movements or close-calls, stop the action and check-in with your group to voice your concerns and reflect on alternatives.
You could integrate Commitment as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to make caring choices about personal behaviour and social interactions.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Anticipating & Evaluating the Consequences of One’s Actions
Promoting Personal & Collective Well-Being
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
This short, highly interactive exercise is ideal for referencing certain social and physical interactions of your group, eg the level of safety consciousness in which the activity was played. That is to say, the way a group plays this game (indeed, any game) often reflects what it values and the way individual group members treat each other. Issues of leadership and goal-setting are also present.
Combined with those described in the Reflection Tips tab, you could invite your group to reflect on the following questions to further explore critical social and interpersonal skills:
In what ways did we (or did we not) look after each other in this exercise?
How might you describe your interactions? Were these positive or helpful?
Did you feel physically and emotionally safe throughout the exercise?
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest) how cooperative was the group?
What beliefs and attitudes were demonstrated or expressed?
What social cues did you observe? How did you respond? Why?
Are there alternatives to the way in which we just played?
Fill Any Spot: After a minute or two of the initial stage of pandemonium, allow anyone from anywhere to fill a spot that is unoccupied, eg when two people have committed to swapping their spots, one of their neighbours may simply step across and steal one of them. Of course, the centre person is still plotting to steal anyone’s spot at any time.
Obligatory Moves: Instruct everyone to make a move to swap spots at least once every 30 seconds. This invitation will encourage a few of the more hesitant folk to have a go, and ramp up the fun.
Take a look at Don’t Touch Me to explore a fun group initiative which involves a highly coordinated series of spot-swapping moves.
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Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this exciting movement game:
What did it take for you to consider moving off your ‘safe’ spot?
Did you ever get stranded without a spot? Why, what happened?
How easy was it to commit?
What stops us, or helps us to move forward?
What might this exercise teach us about making commitments?
The inspiration for Commitment, and many more fun energisers, was sourced, from the following publication: