Thumb wars

At the Philips / Rally SAFe event earlier this year, a slightly adapted version of Thumb Wars was used as a small energizer. But there's more to it than meets the eye.....

We've all been there: A full day of workshop or training, just had lunch and there's a presentation coming up. Time for a little nap. The digestive system is taking most of the bodies energy, the mind is wandering and the attention is anywhere but on the presentation. This is the classical moment for a small energizer, something that gets the body moving again, allows the mind to clear and become focussed on the workshop or training again.
One of the important things in a group workshop is the sense of group. The sense of belonging to the group, trusting the other people in the group so that communication flows more freely.

Thumb Wars is the perfect way to combine both of those. For those unfamiliar with it: In Thumb Wars you lock hands with the thumb sticking out. Then each player tries to lock down the other players thumb by pressing it down on the locked hands. And for a variation on the theme you can lock more than just 2 people in one war and you can lock both hands in different wars so that your group is fully interlinked.

This energizer consists of three layers:
First of all; it's fun. It really is. Of course there is a bit of competition but no one will take that seriously. Fun is always a good thing!
Second; it's physical. You have to stand up to do this and you have to actually physically do something. This gets the blood flowing, gets the energy up again. It also focusses the mind on the game itself, thus clearing it when the game is done.
But for those group events, the third layer may be the most important part. Whenever we touch someone, our brain will produce oxytocin. This is also called the Trust Hormone. Physical human contact helps us form a bond of trust. And in any group learning experience, this is an important factor in making sure everyone can express their thoughts and feelings freely.

So next time you, trainer, facilitator, coach, find yourself in a situation where your group needs an energizer, have them all fight each other with their thumbs. It never fails