Instruct one person to commit to ‘spotting’ their partner’s movements at all times.
Instruct the ‘spotter’ to remain ready and behind their partner no matter where they move.
Without notice, invite the walker to stop walking and then lean backwards, on several occasions.
Instruct the walker to only lean backwards from a stationary/stopped position.
Alert the walking/leaning partner to be prepared to support oneself at all times.
Ask partners to swap roles every 30 seconds.
Swap partners and repeat.
Video Transcript for Walk & Lean
presented by Nate Folan
So here’s an activity that would help us learn the dynamics a little bit more of spotting. So I’m going to ask Kevin actually to spot me in this case. Are you cool with that?
(take the one that needs the most work.)
Yeah, I’m going to take the one that needs the most work. We got Kevin. How’s that?
But Kevin in this case is simply going to be my spotter, if you’re good with that.
I’m just going to do the check. And this is a little bit less formal than the actual commands for spotting. So I’m just going to ask if you’re ready to spot me.
(I’m ready to spot you.)
Cool. So what Kevin is going to do is simply follow me around because I’m going to start moving, just like this. And Kevin is… He’s pretty good. Is he with me?
And at some point what I’m going to do is stop and in my head count to three, and I’m going to lean. Phew, he was there. Good.
I’m going to stand up and I’m going to continue walking. Stay with me, Kevin. And again at some point I’m simply going to lean. He’s there.
One more time moving this way, coming back around. And we’ll be moving in and out of each other as this happens, but really try to be aware of where this person is, you have self-spotting if needed.
(I got you.)
(lots of laughing during Walk & Lean)
Stay with me. Stay with me. There’s that moment… Right, so you noticed. There was a difference to that. Let’s see what he learned. Bring those feet around.
So here’s this moment you noticed he went from moving his feet to bringing an arm under, and also maybe there’s a chance to move and get into that lean on the side.
So your invitation here is leaning back, side to side, preferably not leaning forward just yet. There’s certain things that occur with that moment, but feel free if you’re ready for that to do that.
The thing with this, this is called Walk and Lean, so we’re walking and leaning, right? And with this, Walk and Lean, is that always remember that you actually have that self-spot.
This is so good, you’re still with me. This is our relationship. Are you still with me? Good. But let’s say I didn’t feel like Kevin was right there, I actually have this leg to kick out, just take care of myself. Does that make sense?
So when you’re ready with that person that you were just working with… Thank you, Brother.
(people playing Walk & Lean)
And remember as you go to switch roles, so who’s spotting will lean, who’s leaning will spot.
(people playing Walk & Lean)
Now remember, as you go to switch roles, so who is spotting will lean, and whoever is leaning will spot…
How To Play Narrative
Walk & Lean is fun, dynamic and should only be presented if you have prepared your group appropriately – physically and emotionally – in advance. It’s a great way to build on pre-existing trust and spotting skills as well as reinforcing the importance of self-spotting during the activity and in life.
So, your first step is to build and practice the spotting skills of your group. Take a look at the Leadership Tips tab for a useful spotting skills sequence.
Next, ask for a willing volunteer who feels confident in their spotting skills to be your demonstration partner.
Explain as much to the group as your partner that you will soon start to walk aimlessly around a nominated space, and your partner’s job is to always position themselves directly behind you in the ‘spotter’s ready’ stance.
Check for understanding and then start walking. In the beginning, keep a secret eye on your spotter to be sure that they are following your every move.
After 5 to 10 seconds has elapsed, stop and then slowly start to lean backwards. At this point, instruct your spotting partner to physically support your lean so that you do not collapse to the ground.
Standard spotting parameters apply (click here to review these simple guidelines.)
Presuming that your partner spotted you effectively, regain your balance, and continue to walk aimlessly around. Stop, lean backwards, repeat.
With your demonstration complete, ask your group to form pairs and start walking and spotting one another.
Remind those who are leaning that they should try to stay in the lean as long as they can (or at least until they feel that they have to self-spot,) and for spotters to be very alert and ready.
After a minute or two, invite people to swap partners and repeat. Or, try something new (see Variations tab.)
Practical Leadership Tips
Provide participants with adequate time to practice, experience, and process/review spotting and leaning with traditional Trust Leans. Walk & Lean is a variation of the classic spotting skills exercise Trust Leans and is intended to build upon pre-existing experiences and skills such as spotting, letting go, and trusting.
If you’re looking for guidance to help you develop effective spotting skills, click here.
Typically, when I ask for a volunteer, I always elect to be the leaner. Not only can I control the sequence of events which follow, but I’ll always be ready to self-spot if my volunteer spotter is not quite up to the task.
The transition in roles, from leaner to spotter and spotter to leaner, is a great time for partners to process their experience and apply what they have learned to help each other.
Any Which Way: For truly switched on, experienced groups, invite the leaning walker to lean in any direction (other than in front of themselves.) That is, they may randomly choose to lean backwards or to the left or right without warning.
Blindfolded: As the name suggests, invite the leaning partner (not the spotter!) to close their eyes or wear a blindfold. This kind of ramps up the trust factor.
Take a look at Lean Walk for a similar challenging partner walking exercise.
Useful Framing Ideas
Now that you have practised the refined skills of leaning and spotting, let’s add a new dynamic to your experience. This variation provides the leaner with more directions to lean and the spotter with more realistic opportunities to respond accordingly. Ultimately, you will have an opportunity to explore the boundaries that exist within a relationship…
Most of us have enjoyed the thrills and spills of the classic spotting skills exercise of Trust Leans. In which case, you are probably very adept at practising the skill of physically supporting a stationary person. But what if that person was able to move about, randomly? Would you be able to cope? Let’s finds out…
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 dynamic trust-building exercise:
Describe your experience as a leaner?
Describe your experience as a spotter?
What did you learn as a spotter or leaner from this experience? Provide examples.
On a scale of 1 to 5 (highest rating being 5) how well did you feel cared for?
On a scale of 1 to 5 (highest rating being 5) how well did you care for yourself?
What similarities and differences existed for you with each role?
How do you typically care for others? How do you prefer to be cared for??What motivates and helps you to care for yourself?
Can any of these lessons be applied to the life of this group?
The inspiration for Walk & Lean, and many more playful learning activities, was sourced from the following publication: