Announce that you would like everyone to physically pass through the hoop as quickly as possible.
Start timing their attempt as soon as the hoop is picked up, and stop when the hoop is returned to the ground after the last person has passed through.
Allow the group three (or more) ‘official’ attempts to record their fastest time.
Allow several minutes between each attempt.
Video Transcript for Through The Wringer
presented by Mark Collard
You’ll note that I have a very colourful hoop. Here’s how it works. I’m going to be quite structured in the beginning, to begin with, and Tech Kwang I’m going to ask you in a moment to pick this up, and what will happen is the time will start when you pick up this hoop. You need to physically pass your body through this.
For anyone who might be wondering what I mean by that, it does not mean this, passing through the hoop. That is you actually need to physically pass your whole body through the hoop. Okay?
Once you’re done, put it down on the ground or pass it to the next person. Each person individually will pass themselves through the hoop.
I will time it because I’m like that, and I want to enjoy actually seeing what sort of time this takes, this particular exercise.
So, got the basic idea, it’s going to start with you. It’ll finish here with you, Tim. There’s eleven of you, I think. So are you ready to go?
As soon as you pick it up the time will start, Tech Kwang. As soon as you pick it up. And we’re time started.
(people passing through hoop)
You can just pass it to the next person if you choose. Beautiful. you’ll want to make this as quick as possible. Nice, Nick. Alright, Shaun.
(people passing through hoop)
When you’re finished, Tim, put it on the ground so I can stop the time. And you could even choose to put it back where it came from as well. That was beautiful. That was perfect, Tim. Excellent.
Alright. So I’m going to write this down. We’re not about to break any records because it’s the first time this group has taken this challenge, but 25.84 seconds.
Note that it does go to the hundredth of a second, because if we do break any records we need to let Mr. Guinness know, because that’s the level at which they run.
So here’s your objective, is to find the quickest way of passing eleven people through this hoop. The parameters are, the hoop starts on the ground to start the time, it returns to the ground, as soon as it touches the ground I stop the time, and all eleven of you must pass through the hoop.
Be aware that the very first time you’ve done it you’ve all gone through individually. That’s the time you can do significantly better than this time.
Are there any questions? If there isn’t I’ll hand it over to you. I’m going to give you about two minutes at which point I’ll ask you to have another attempt.
You’ll probably have two or three official attempts at trying to break your record. So with each attempt you’ll have several more minutes to think about your next attempt. Any questions?
Everybody ready? First official attempt, and GO!
(people passing through hoop)
Alright, okay. Anyone want to hazard a guess as to how long that was? It was pretty…
Yeah, definitely quicker than 25. So around 11?
10.97 seconds. Pretty accurate. If we were rounding up that was 11 seconds.
How To Play Narrative
This is one of my all-time favourite group problem-solving initiatives.
Gather your group around you, and place a hula-hoop on the ground in front of them.
Explain that as soon as someone picks up the hoop, you will start timing the group’s effort to physically pass everyone in the group through the hoop as quickly as possible.
Stop the watch when the final person has passed through the hoop and returns it to the ground. And that’s it.
Initially some groups will only think to pass one person through the hoop at a time, because they assume that this is what they are supposed to do. Other groups will immediately start to think more creatively, and consider passing two or more people through the hoop at the same time.
Allow the group three (or more) ‘official’ attempts to record their fastest time, with several minutes between attempts for discussion, planning and trial and error.
Observe your group’s ability to generate, share and trial their ideas, as well as their decision-making and leadership skills. This is such a simple, yet dynamic problem to solve, allow ample time to process your group’s experience at the end.
Practical Leadership Tips
Do you have a large group of, say, 20 or more people? Break your gathering into two or more smaller teams, and then either (a) invite competition between the teams, or (b) ask each team to work on the same problem with identical resources to achieve the quickest time as a group.
If you can get your hands on them, try to use segmented hoops, ie they come in 5, 6 or 7 pieces and snap together to form a solid hoop. This will give you the ability to vary the size of the hoops you are passing, not to mention, allow you to adjust the challenge to reflect the size and shape of the people involved.
Why wringer? – the term originates from the ye olde practice of wet laundry being passed through a wringer to squeeze out the excess water to help the garment dry.
You could integrate Through The Wringer as part of a well-designed SEL program to promote and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers ample 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
The complexities of this simple, yet fun group initiative will invite your group to interact and engage with each other in a manner that would necessarily speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could focus on any less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see and commit to in the future.
For example, in addition to those described in the Reflection Tips tab, you could invite your group to reflect on the following questions to explore a variety of full value behaviours such as:
How did the group demonstrate its ability to care for self and others?
Generally speaking, how did the group make decisions? How were all members involved?
Describe your group’s goal-setting process? Was it inclusive and realistic?
Was everyone fully aware of the group’s goal? If not, why not?
What types of leadership were demonstrated during the exercise? Were they effective?
Was adaptability a key component of the group’s success? How?
One At A Time: Only permit one person to be passed through the hoop at any point in time.
Competing Teams: Split into two teams, and either (a) invite competition between the teams, or (b) ask each team to work on the same problem with identical resources to achieve the quickest time as a group.
Fun group initiative to develop problem-solving skills.
Watch Your Step
Progressively challenging group initiative using ropes.
Don’t Touch Me
Fun group initiative that teaches value of collaboration.
Useful Framing Ideas
Technology improves at such a rapid pace these days, it is fair to say what we believe to be standard today will be considered ‘old school’ in a decade or two. Metaphorically speaking, I would like you to consider this hula-hoop as an old technology. In the business of passing people through a hoop, it was believed that the only way that this could be done was to pass one person through at a time. Today, we have the technology to pass two or more people through at a time. Let’s record the time it takes to pass everyone through the hoop one person at a time. Then, we’ll give you several attempts to record potentially quicker times by passing two or more people through at the same time…
As a task, this next problem is quite simple to understand and solve. It’s as simple as passing everyone in your group through a hula-hoop. Yet, the process with which your group may approach this task could be as complex as you wish to make it…
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 and dynamic group initiative:
If you were told at the start you could pass all of your group through this hoop in [enter time recorded,] would you have believed it was possible?
What do you think is possible now?
What was necessary to help your group be successful?
How many ideas were generated during the experience? How many of these were attempted? What does this say about your process?
What are the benefits of a trial-and-error approach? Are there any disadvantages?
Quick & Simple ‘Team-Building’ Session
What You Need:
10+ people, 30 mins, set of Alphabet Equation cards (Print+Play), hula-hoop, stopwatch