And we’re going to really pluck out maybe the big moment of a game or sometimes the seventh innings people start stretching and such, but we want to do a collective in that most sporting arenas there is that… the concept of a wave, right?
How many people have ever been part of a wave? You’ve been at a sporting event. Does it happen elsewhere? Has anyone had an experience… Where?
Disneyworld. Where in Disney?
(At some of the events, some of the things that you watch.)
Wow. Nice. So at the events at Disney. Anywhere else?
(Now that she says that, like I actually like… it’s like a long rollercoaster at a Six Flags, the person in front puts their hands up…)
Nice. So some different context other than a sporting arena. What’s going to happen is I’m going to wave my hands up and shout or something like that, moving to the left the wave is going to make its way around this group. So…
(raising hands and shouting in Wave Stretch
Going back to the right. Go team!
(raising hands and shouting in the Wave Stretch)
Lovely. Thank you. So there’s this moment, this energy of the wave, right? You’re anticipating your moment. When it’s your turn you’re up with other people, yeah, and then it comes back down.
We’re going to use that format as a way to introduce some stretches, and the way we’re going to introduce the stretch is if I introduce a stretch and we’ll keep it going to the right this time just like the wave was going in that last moment, is I’m going to pass a stretch and the stretch is going to continue all the way around that same stretch.
We’ll all hold that one position until it comes back in this case to Hunter. Hunter will then introduce a new stretch.
So if I do this, if I take my arm across working on a tricep stretch, Hunter will do it, but all of you are waiting your turn just like the wave, anticipating the stretch to come towards you.
You’ll also catch yourself if you go into a new stretch early or you’ll catch someone else.
Great. So now I’m waiting. Everyone else will hold this stretch as Hunter introduces a new stretch right around the group. There you go.
(people stretching with the Wave Stretch)
Hold your other stretch until it comes around to you. This is what’s happening to the two of you, watch. So then hold this stretch.
(people stretching in Wave Stretch)
How To Play Narrative
Set yourself up as part of a circle with your group, with plenty of room to move around between each person.
Start off by demonstrating a fun little exercise that everyone can perform, eg waving your arms out by your side up and down like angel wings.
Immediately the person to your left is asked to mimic your actions, and then the next person to their left, and so on. The movement is maintained as it is passed around the circle much like the wave, you know that curious ‘raising up of arms one after another’ motion that swept every major sporting arena during the 1990’s.
However, unlike what happens in today’s sporting stadiums, everyone in the circle keeps doing the movement (even after the wave has passed them by,) until…..the ‘wave’ returns to the person who introduced the movement to the group.
Now – and carefully note – the wave passes this person by, and the person to their left introduces a new movement, eg hopping on one leg whistling a tune.
Next – this is the hard part – the first person who introduces a movement (eg angel wings) keeps doing the movement until the new wave (eg hopping in this case) comes around to him or her. That is to say, whoever introduces a movement will perform it for two complete rotations of the circle.
In essence, this exercise is a great lesson in concentration and patience, not to mention, a wonderfully quirky warm-up.
Continue the action until you feel it is time to move on.
Practical Leadership Tips
It’s not necessary to create a circle for this exercise, but it’s useful, because half the fun is discovered in the looks of delight and torment as people take on some pretty silly moves.
A hint, think carefully about what you’re going to subject your group to, because you’ll end up doing it twice as long.
While clearly involving lots of movement, try not to turn this exercise into a boring routine of PE type stretches and warm-ups. They were boring when you were young, and they’re still boring today.
I will guarantee that nine times out of ten, the person who introduces a particular movement will forget to keep doing their stretch once it returns to them, and adopt the new movement of their left-hand neighbour, ie sooner than they should. Observe this infraction, laugh, see it corrected, and continue.
It is not necessary to rotate all the way around your circle to give every person a turn. Depending on the size of your group, continue the exercise for as long as your group is enjoying what they are doing.
You could integrate Wave Stretch as part of a well-designed SEL program to develop your group’s ability to manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours effectively in different situations and to achieve goals.
Specifically, this activity offers ample opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
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 engaging in a prolonged period of stretching exercises.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and effort required to successfully mimic the series of stretches may speak to the benefits of being mindful and adaptable, but these would not be considered the primary purposes of the activity.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Wave Stretch could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
Random Start: Once a particular stretch returns to the person who introduced it, invite any person anywhere in the circle, to introduce the next stretch for the group to mimic.
Two Directions: Send a ‘wave’ of two movements/stretches at the same time, in different directions. Once the two movements return from whence they came, a new person initiates a move. There’ll be total chaos, but tons of fun.
Power Stretch: Take a look at I’ve Got The Power to explore another fun, inventive stretch.
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Useful Framing Ideas
If you’ve ever been to a sporting stadium in the past twenty years or so, you will likely be familiar with the ubiquitous ‘mexican wave.’ You know, that extraordinary wave-like motion of thousands of arms and hands swinging up into the air at the same time, moving from one side of the stadium to the other. This next exercise features this fun wave-like motion, but with a twist…
Humour is often found in the most unlikely of places, simply because we can relate to the situation and are grateful that it didn’t happen to us. And the laughter is often strangest in those circumstances where the task is very simple, but it’s not easy. In a moment, I am going to introduce an exercise that I assure you will cause many of you to forget what you are doing, and cause ripples of laughter from others in the group because they’ll be able to see that error coming…
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 creative, stretching game:
Was it hard to think of an interesting or unusual stretch?
Did you forget to keep doing your own stretch when it returned to you? Why?
What was the reaction of the group to your ‘mistake?’ Is this response typical?
What’s necessary to create an atmosphere in which mistakes are okay?
The inspiration for Wave Stretch, and many more inventive stretching exercises, was sourced from the following publication: