Bull Ring

Type of Activity: Problem-solving

Props Needed: One Bull Ring:  a 2 inch diameter metal ring with several pieces of string tied to it., one ball, ball stand.

Set Up: Set the ball stand up and put the 2 inch ring over the cylinder.  Carefully lay out the strings like the spokes of a wheel and place the ball on top of the cylinder.

Process: The challenge is to carry a ball through a series of obstacles and place the ball onto the goal, the ball stand, using the bull ring.  You can incorporate as many limitations and obstacles as you want to make this activity more difficult.  For example, only allow  the participants to hold the very end of the strings.  Or the only people who can touch the strings are blindfolded.  Generally you want one string per participant, however, if you have more people than strings introduce blindfolds or other limitations to ensure that everyone is involved with the process.  Create obstacles such as doorways, trees or a table.  Get creative and have fun!

This activity can be hard or easy based on the parameters that you set up for the group.  One suggestion is to let your participants choose the level of challenge they would prefer to have.  This allows your participants to have more ownership of their experience.  Give them an option to choose a desired level of difficulty ranging from 1-5.  For example:  Level 1 would be a very simple task, 3 would be a medium challenge, and 5 would be very difficult.  Below are a few examples of the different levels.  Feel free to change these options based on the abilities and functioning level of your group.

Level 1:  Participants must remain at least 3 feet from the ball at all times.  They are allowed 5-6 drops of the ball without starting over.  Participants have all of their resources such as sight and hearing.  The route the group must traverse with the ball is free of obstacles.

Level 3:  Participants must remain at least 6 feet from the ball at all times.  They are allowed 2 drops of the ball before additional penalties are added (like starting over).  One person in the group does not have the use of their voice during the activity.  The route the group must traverse requires them to go through a doorway or over a picnic table or between two trees.

Level 5:  Two people are separated from the group and given all of the directions.  The directions are explained as such:  Participants may only hold onto the last 3 inches of the strings.  No one may be within 8 feet of the ball at any time.  Any drop of the ball requires the group to start completely over at the beginning.  Two people must volunteer to be blindfolded.  The blindfolded people must be in contact with the strings at all times during the activity.  Upon the return of these two people to the group they are informed that the resource of their voice has been taken away before they have given the instructions to the group.  Very difficult level 5!


Choose options that match the abilities of your group.  Some groups are higher functioning and can handle the suggestions for Level 5.  These parameters would not be appropriate for other groups.  Assess your group and choose the best option for them!   It is suggested that you introduce Consensus Cards or Consensus Thumbs (see instructions in this guide) to the group as a means for the group to decide their difficulty level as a group.

Variation: Carefully choose a participant to be the ‘bully’ in this activity.  This person is given the role as being non-compliant with group decisions, being careless with the strings, mimicking or making fun of a blindfolded person, etc.  Observe how the group reacts to this person and process it thoroughly.  Make sure the group understands this role so the other participants do not think their behavior was intentional.

Clean up: Once the activity is over, gather the strings together and carefully wrap the strings around your hand and rubber band the strings together.  It is easy to knot or tangle the ropes if you are not careful with the set up or take down of the bull ring.

Debriefing Topics:

  • Did a leader emerge in this activity?  Who stepped up and why?
  • Did you notice anyone getting frustrated in this activity?  Who?  Why do you think they were frustrated?
  • How do you think this activity would have been different if you would have chosen a different   difficulty level?
  • How did the group come to consensus on the level of difficulty you chose?
  • If you were blindfolded in this activity, what was your experience like?  Did you feel your thoughts and ideas were valued if you offered any?
  • If you could have changed one thing that happened in the activity, what would you have changed?
  • Did anyone notice anything different in (the bully’s) behavior in this activity?  What was different?
  • How would the process be different if the negative behavior was not there?
  • How did it make you feel to watch or be a recipient of (the bully’s) negative behavior?
  • How can we use this information to help us in the future?

For original write up purchase  Teamwork & Teamplay” 

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