Each person places their open palms face down onto their own laps (thighs.)
When ready, a nominated person will slap their lap (both hands) causing their neighbour on their left to do exactly the same immediately afterwards, and so on (in sequence) around the circle.
Announce that the group’s objective is to perform this task as quickly as possible.
Repeat several times.
Go both directions, if desired, or try a variation.
How To Play Narrative
Got a group sitting in a circle, wondering what to do to fill in some time, or perhaps needing a little pep?
Ask everyone to place their open hands (palms facing down) onto their lap.
Then, having agreed on a suitable starting routine (“1, 2, 3” or “READY-SET-GO,” etc,) explain that you want a sequence of hands being slapped on laps around the circle (two hands per person at the same time) occurring at break-neck speed.
In terms of speed, ‘really fast’ is not quick enough, nor is ‘dynamically speedy’ – but at break-neck speed. Ham it up … you get the idea.
Then with your typical flourish, begin the sequence by slapping your own lap, and henceforth set off an impulse of slaps around the circle (the direction does not matter.)
Time it if you will, but everyone will know without a stopwatch if you have (or have not) achieved the desired velocity.
Repeat several times. Go both directions to check which route of galloping hands is the fastest.
Practical Leadership Tips
Ask people to sit as close to others as possible. Somehow, this improves performance. This close proximity also fosters a more energetic atmosphere.
Why break-neck speed? Observe people’s heads as they watch the impulse pass them by. Enough said.
Note your emphasis on the word “slap.” Granted, you are asking people to ‘slap’ their own laps, but we don’t want anyone to end up with a welt on their legs. Highlighting the intent of your language will help your group develop empathy and compassion for others.
It is possible to do this activity standing up, but the bending down to slap one’s thighs can quickly get tiresome, so limit your playing time.
You could integrate Galloping Hands as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships in your group.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
Demonstrating Self-Discipline & Self-Motivation
Setting Personal & Group Goals
Use Planning & Organisational Skills
Communicate & Listen Effectively
Build Positive Relationships
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
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s wellbeing of playing a fun game and enjoying a good laugh.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus required to successfully track the cadence and progress of the galloping beat speaks to the benefits of being mindful, but I wouldn’t stretch this point too far. If nothing else, engaging in a short burst of nonsensical activity might represent a useful opportunity to relax and tune out for a moment.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Galloping Hands could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Sequence of Hands: Ask people to slap one hand at a time, in the correct sequence, ie if the impulse is being sent clockwise, the right hand of an individual must be slapped first before their left hand. This will provide a wonderful proxy to produce the sound of a gallop.
Knee Impulse: Invite people to place one hand on the knee of their two closest neighbours, ie each person’s left-hand rests on the right knee of their left-hand neighbour, and vice versa. This time the impulse is created by consecutive hands as governed by the sequence of knees. See Knee Impulse for more details.
Galloping Claps: Send an impulse of claps around the circle, at break-neck speed of course!
Galloping Passes: Instead of slapping, pass one or more soft objects around the circle at a galloping speed.
Take a look at The Passing Game to introduce a problem-solving element to the passing motions.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Many people have attempted this world’s record, but none have quite broken it. Yet. On paper, this is a very simple task, but when it comes to actually meeting the challenge, most groups fall short…
Is trotting faster than galloping? Is very fast the same as ‘break-neck’ speed? Let’s try this next exercise and let me know what you think…
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 fun, energising game:
What helped you pass the impulse of slaps as quickly around the circle as possible?
What hindered your ability to keep the sequence as fast as possible?
At its quickest pace, did we truly keep slap sequence around the circle?
The inspiration for Galloping Hands, and many more fun, zany games than I have time to mention, was sourced from Karl Rohnke. With thanks.