A great activity for everyone

Hula Hoop

How to Have Fun and Build Team Unity with Hula Hoop!

Hula Hoop
By Jon Zajac

What is Hula Hoop?

The Hula Hoop Icebreaker is an engaging and enjoyable team-building activity that I use to foster communication, cooperation, and mutual understanding among participants. Its primary objective is for the group to lower a hula hoop to the ground while each participant’s fingers maintain constant contact with it, promoting equal support without gripping or pinching the hoop.

In this activity, I usually have participants stand in a circle, forming a human chain around the hula hoop. The challenge lies in keeping the hoop balanced and coordinating movements, which often results in laughter and hilarity as groups attempt to synchronize their actions while adhering to the rules. By reflecting on the hurdles encountered during this activity and highlighting successful strategies, I aim to emphasize key takeaways related to teamwork, leadership, mutual support, communication, and role allocation within a group or organizational setting.

This simple yet effective icebreaker not only dissolves initial awkwardness among participants but also sets the stage for deeper team-building opportunities. The Hula Hoop Icebreaker can be easily adapted with additional challenges like using multiple hoops, blindfolds, or increasing complexity levels to cater to the group’s developmental needs and maintain interest over time.

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Rules for Hula Hoop

  1. Participants must form a circle, facing inward.
  2. The hula hoop should be placed horizontally at chest height, supported by the group.
  3. Each participant’s fingers must remain in constant contact with the hoop.
  4. The hoop must be supported evenly by the group, without being carried or disproportionately supported by individuals.
  5. Communication between participants is crucial for success.
  6. Adjustments and adaptations to individual pressures on the hula hoop are necessary to lower it effectively.
  7. Participants should balance cooperation with the challenge of moving the hoop down while following the rules.

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Materials needed for Hula Hoop

  • Hula Hoop: A standard-sized hula hoop is required for this activity. It will be used as the main object that participants must lower to the ground as a team.

  • Space: Ensure you have a spacious area, either indoors or outdoors, where the group can comfortably stand in a circle without obstructions. The area should be large enough for each participant to have enough personal space to move slightly forward and backward without bumping into each other.

  • Participants: This activity is designed for a group of 5-10 participants per hoop, but the number can be adjusted based on the size of your overall group or room space availability. Participants should be prepared to stand in a circle, face inward, and communicate effectively with one another to achieve the goal of lowering the hula hoop to the ground while adhering to the rules.

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Setting up for Hula Hoop

To set up for the Hula Hoop icebreaker activity, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a spacious area: Find an indoor or outdoor location where the group can comfortably stand in a circle without obstructions. Ensure there is enough personal space for participants to move slightly forward and backward without bumping into each other.
  2. Randomly position participants: Have participants stand in a circle, facing inward. It’s best if they are randomly positioned rather than standing next to people they know well, encouraging wider interaction and cooperation.
  3. Select a starting point: Decide on which side of the circle you will place the hula hoop. This participant will be responsible for holding the hoop horizontally at chest height or having it lightly touching their outstretched index fingers all around the circle.
  4. Emphasize communication and cooperation: Before beginning the activity, remind participants of the main goal—to lower the hula hoop to the ground as a team—and emphasize the values of communication, cooperation, and fun.

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How to play Hula Hoop

1. Prepare the Hula Hoop and Space - Gather a standard-sized hula hoop and choose a spacious area where 5-10 participants can stand in a circle without obstructions.

2. Set Expectations for Participants - Explain that the group’s goal is to lower the hula hoop to the ground while keeping fingers in constant contact with it.

3. Position Participants in a Circle - Have participants stand in a circle, facing inward, with enough personal space to move slightly forward and backward.

4. Place the Hula Hoop in Position - Place the hula hoop horizontally at chest height on one participant’s fingertips or rest it lightly on their outstretched index fingers all around the circle.

5. Encourage Communication and Cooperation - Inform participants that they must lower the hoop as a team, guiding each other verbally or non-verbally to enhance communication and cooperation.

6. Adjust Posture and Pressure - As the group begins, participants will need to adjust their individual pressures on the hula hoop and modify their stance for effective coordination.

7. Debrief the Experience - After completing the task, facilitate a debriefing session discussing challenges encountered, successful strategies, and how the experience relates to team communication and problem-solving in real-world settings.

8. Highlight Key Takeaways - Emphasize lessons learned about teamwork, leadership, mutual support, and communication within a group or organizational setting.

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Benefits of Hula Hoop

  • Fosters Communication: I found that the Hula Hoop icebreaker significantly boosts communication skills among participants. As they work together to lower the hoop, they need to constantly guide each other verbally or non-verbally, which enhances teamwork and creative problem-solving.

  • Promotes Cooperation: This activity taught me the importance of cooperation in a group setting. Each participant’s fingers must remain in constant contact with the hoop, and it must be supported evenly. This encouraged participants to adjust their individual pressures exerted on the hula hoop to achieve collective lowering effectively.

  • Enhances Problem-Solving Skills: The Hula Hoop icebreaker is an excellent way to enhance problem-solving skills. Keeping the hula hoop balanced and coordinating movements is more challenging than it appears, requiring participants to think creatively and work together to find successful strategies.

  • Boosts Morale and Team Spirit: Laughter often ensues as groups attempt to synchronizedly move the hoop down while adhering to the rules. This creates a fun and engaging atmosphere that boosts morale and team spirit, making it an excellent way to start any team-building event or workshop.

  • Provides Insights into Team Dynamics: Once the task is completed, reflecting on the hurdles encountered during the activity can provide valuable insights into team dynamics. Questions like “What was challenging about this activity?” and “How did you overcome these challenges?” can guide this reflection, helping participants understand their roles within a group or organizational setting better.

  • Encourages Adaptability: The Hula Hoop icebreaker encourages adaptability by requiring participants to adjust their individual pressures exerted on the hula hoop to achieve collective lowering effectively. This could involve bending knees, adjusting stance, and stabilizing or minor lifting of arms to keep the hoop balanced and gradually move it downwards.

  • Reinforces Leadership Skills: The Hula Hoop icebreaker provides an opportunity for participants to step up as leaders, guiding their teammates and coordinating efforts to lower the hula hoop successfully. This helps reinforce leadership skills in a fun and engaging way.

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Skills built with Hula Hoop

  • Communication: The Hula Hoop Icebreaker activity emphasizes the importance of clear and timely communication between team members. As participants work together to lower the hula hoop, they must constantly provide feedback and adjustments to ensure success, which translates to better communication skills in real-world settings.

  • Cooperation: A key aspect of this icebreaker is fostering a sense of cooperation among group members. By working towards a common goal and relying on each other’s input, participants learn the value of teamwork and develop stronger interpersonal relationships.

  • Problem Solving: The Hula Hoop Icebreaker presents a unique challenge that requires participants to think creatively and strategically to find solutions. This process helps sharpen problem-solving skills as individuals identify issues, analyze potential outcomes, and implement strategies in real-time.

  • Adaptability: As the hula hoop moves upwards unexpectedly or becomes unbalanced, participants must quickly adjust their approach and respond to changing circumstances. This experience builds adaptability, an essential skill for navigating dynamic work environments and personal relationships.

  • Patience and Persistence: The Hula Hoop Icebreaker can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating activity. However, by remaining patient and persistent, participants develop resilience and learn to maintain focus on their goals despite setbacks or obstacles.

  • Trust and Empathy: As group members work closely together and rely on each other’s input, they build trust and empathy. By practicing active listening and offering constructive feedback, participants enhance their emotional intelligence and strengthen interpersonal bonds.

  • Role Allocation: In the Hula Hoop Icebreaker, team members often discover that distributing tasks based on individual strengths leads to more effective problem-solving. This realization highlights the importance of role allocation in both personal and professional settings, ensuring each person contributes their unique skills to achieve collective success.

As a facilitator, observing and reflecting on these skill developments can help create a more cohesive and high-performing team, ultimately contributing to a positive and productive work environment.

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Why I like Hula Hoop

I appreciate the Hula Hoop icebreaker activity for its ability to effectively promote team-building and communication in a simple, engaging, and memorable way. The activity’s design encourages participants to work together, adapt, and communicate, making it an ideal tool for fostering a collaborative environment.

One aspect I particularly like is the inherent challenge of lowering the hula hoop as a team. This seemingly basic task quickly reveals the importance of communication and coordination, providing profound insights into real-world team dynamics. As participants work together to balance the hoop and move it downwards, they learn to adjust their individual efforts based on group feedback, which is an essential skill for successful collaboration.

I also value the Hula Hoop icebreaker’s versatility. It can be easily adapted to suit various group sizes and settings, making it a flexible option for team-building facilitators. Additionally, incorporating elements such as blindfolds or multiple hoops can increase complexity, keeping the activity fresh and engaging for different groups and skill levels.

The reflective component of the Hula Hoop icebreaker is another aspect that I find appealing. By prompting participants to discuss their experiences and insights gained during the activity, facilitators can help translate these lessons into practical knowledge that benefits the team in real-world situations. This thoughtful debriefing process not only solidifies the learning experience but also fosters a stronger sense of group cohesion and camaraderie.

In summary, I like the Hula Hoop icebreaker because it offers a fun, interactive, and adaptable approach to team-building that encourages communication, cooperation, and problem-solving. Its simple yet powerful design allows participants to develop valuable skills and insights while building stronger relationships within their group.

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Tips for making Hula Hoop more inclusive

  • Tip: Provide Different Sizes of Hula Hoops By having hula hoops in various sizes, participants with different body types can comfortably participate without feeling left out due to the unavailability of a suitable-sized hoop.

  • Tip: Consider Cultural Adaptations In some cultures, physical touch might be less common or carry specific meanings. Encourage verbal communication and non-physical cues as alternatives to direct finger contact with the hula hoop.

  • Tip: Offer Visual Aids for Visually Impaired Participants For visually impaired participants, provide tactile markers on the hula hoop or use audio descriptions during the activity to ensure their full engagement and safety.

  • Tip: Use Clear Verbal Instructions Be mindful of language barriers or hearing difficulties by speaking clearly, slowly, and providing written instructions if necessary. Offer translation services or visual alternatives when needed.

  • Tip: Accommodate Physical Limitations If participants have physical limitations or disabilities, provide alternative ways to participate in the activity that don’t compromise their safety or comfort. This might involve using a lighter hoop, sitting down, or taking breaks as required.

  • Tip: Encourage Self-Expression and Personal Style Promote individuality and creativity by allowing participants to express themselves through movement, clothing, or personalized verbal cues during the activity.

  • Tip: Address Potential Sensory Sensitivities Be aware of sensory sensitivities some participants may have, such as sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights. Adjust the environment and volume levels accordingly to ensure a comfortable and inclusive experience for everyone.

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Reflection questions for Hula Hoop

  1. What did you find most challenging about this activity? Understanding the specific obstacles faced during the hula hoop exercise can provide insights into individual and group strengths as well as areas for improvement in communication, cooperation, and problem-solving.
  2. How did you adapt your behavior throughout the activity to help lower the hula hoop? By recognizing personal adjustments and their impact on team progress, participants can learn about the importance of self-awareness and adaptability within a group context.
  3. What strategies did your group use to work together effectively? Identifying successful approaches to collaboration can inform future teamwork efforts and demonstrate the value of effective communication and role allocation.
  4. How does this activity relate to real-world situations in which you need to collaborate with others? Drawing parallels between the hula hoop exercise and everyday challenges can help participants develop a deeper appreciation for team dynamics and transfer their learnings from this activity into professional or personal contexts.
  5. What did you learn about yourself as a team member during this activity? Reflecting on individual contributions to group success can promote self-awareness, personal growth, and a stronger sense of belonging within the team.
  6. If you were to facilitate this activity with another group, what would you do differently based on your experience today? Anticipating changes for future iterations highlights participants’ growing understanding of teamwork principles and their ability to apply these insights in practice.

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About the author

Jon Zajac

Jon Zajac

Founder & Chief Icebreaker

I started Icebreaker Spot because I truly believe that strong connections are the foundation of successful teams. I wanted to create a platform that would make it easy for people to find and share icebreakers and team building activities, empowering them to build trust, foster collaboration, and ultimately, achieve greatness together.

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