Designate an area for each team to represent their goal, eg a wall, space between two cones, etc.
Announce that each time a team strikes the beach-ball over their goal line, they score a point.
The ball may only be struck with an open-palm (no clenched fists,) and no one is permitted to hold or grasp the ball.
Play starts, and resumes after each goal, with the beach-ball launched into the air in the centre of the playing space.
Play for one or more rounds of 2 to 5 minutes alternating goals between rounds.
The team that earns the most points, wins.
How To Play Narrative
Small areas just don’t work as well with this activity, so seek out a large playing space, the bigger and wider the better.
Allocate your group into two teams (adopt a random method from Getting Into Teams if you like.) Feel free to identify each team somehow (eg, wear different coloured tops, socks-up/socks-down, etc), but generally it’s not necessary.
Next, designate an area for each team to represent their goal. Opposing goals should be at least 50 metres apart. I normally lay a rope or indicate an imaginary line between two gym cones as sufficient. If playing inside, a designated space on opposing walls is perfect.
Now, introduce a fully blown (and hopefully sturdy) beach-ball. The object for each team is to strike or hit the ball – only ever with an open hand – in the direction of their goal so that it passes over the goal line (or hits the wall) as many times as possible.
Of course, the team with the most goals at the end of the nominated time-frame, wins.
No one is permitted to hold or grasp the ball, otherwise, there are no possession rules, fouls, or free-kicks.
Once the ball is launched into the air to signify the start, play begins. So too, when a goal is scored, the ball is returned to the centre to be launched high into the air.
Play for several rounds of 2 to 5 minutes each, alternating the goals for each team between rounds.
Given the real-estate the ball will typically cover in a short amount of time, it won’t take long for people to exhaust themselves. To vary the pace, invite teams to gather and discuss more effective strategies between rounds, as well as catch their breaths.
Practical Leadership Tips
There’s no rhyme or reason to how big or small the goals should be. Just ensure that all goals are similar in size.
In essence, this game should be a non-contact sport. Police any overtly rough or physically challenging behaviours as appropriate.
Once the basic concept has been grasped and a few goals have been scored, you may notice that fewer and fewer people continue to follow the ball to remain active. If so, introduce shorter rounds, or try a variation below.
Be vigilant and keep up with the action as best you can to ensure everyone is striking the ball with an open-palm. It only takes one person with a big swing of their clenched hand to miss the ball and clock someone in the face, for the game to end in tears.
You could use any softish ball, but I have found that the size, weightlessness and unpredictability of a beach-ball is a great leveller when it comes to sporting prowess. A beach-ball can make even the coolest, most athletic dude or dudette look like a klutz.
Word of warning, borne from experience – always keep a few spare beach-balls handy, because they do break. And, don’t try Striker outside on a windy day. In no time flat, you’ll have everyone running for the ball three blocks away.
More Teams: Try three or four teams, all competing to strike the ball through their designated goal, which when combined, appear like a triangle or square.
More Balls: Introduce a second or third ball to whip up a little more energy, not to mention, a lot more people. This version can tire people out quickly, so you may need to introduce a few short breaks.
Striker Hoopla: Ask one person from each team to hold a hula-hoop within their designated goal area. To score a goal, a team must now strike the beach-ball through the hula-hoop. The person holding the hula-hoop may move (within the goal area) to assist in scoring. Or, to make it more challenging, ask that the hula-hooper only ever pivot on one foot, or never move their feet, to assist a score.
Striker Initiative: Take a look at Moonball to learn a team-based activity involving continuous strikes of a beach-ball.
Fun, trust-building navigation exercise for partners.
Playful & rapid movement name-game for small groups.
Challenging, quick-reflex exercise for small groups.
Useful Framing Ideas
Most ball sports involve a high degree of dexterity and agility to play well. Today, I’m going to introduce to you a ball that requires no specific skill to strike, nor performs to the normal rules of aerodynamics…
Have you ever struck a beach-ball and watched it career in some direction other than where you intended? All of us have, so you are all overly-qualified for this next competition…
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 wonderfully active, team-based game:
Regardless of your eye-hand coordination skills, how did it feel to whack the beach-ball?
What did you notice as the game progressed?
Did your team discuss strategies to work together and score more goals? Be specific, what worked, what didn’t?
The inspiration for Striker and many more fun, large group activities, was sourced from the following publications: