Ball Up

Ever played ‘Ball Up’ with a Drama class?

It is the simplest of warm up activities and yet so much fun.

So today we played Ball Up for a while in Year 12 Drama.

Now the rules of this activity are extremely complex, so I’ll go through them slowly.

1. Pass a (largish) ball randomly around the room without letting it bounce (a rubbber ball from any toy shop is fine)
2. The whole group counts simultaneously as the game progresses
3. You are not allowed to hit the ball twice in a row
4. See how high a number the group can reach before the ball falls to the ground
5. Start again at zero and try to beat your previous highest score

That’s it! Dead easy!

Sounds like you could happily play this for five or ten minutes, right? Nope! Classes that really go sick on it can’t get enough of it and want to play it for 30 minutes or more sometimes (then I get a guilty conscience, start questioning the educational validity of the activity dragging on so long and begin wondering whether my class is really ‘using’ me and prefer playing this game instead of more serious work!).

The activity’s benefits are many. The end result is effective teamwork. Some groups are great at it, whilst others start poorly and improve with regular playing. One could argue it is a far better activity for ensembles, play or musical casts at school, than using it in a standard Drama or Theatre class because of the teamwork aspect. Along the way, the group also learns movement and concentration skills. Of course, all these are transferrable to the stage at another time in a more formal performance setting.

You are guaranteed a hell of a lot of fun. Assuming you play the game with a harmless rubber ball filled with air, then you will see students accidentally smacking the ball into their best friend’s head, others occasionally falling over forgetting it’s not beach volleyball (clear the room of obstacles first!) and all will withness general funny stuff while participants enthusiastically find themselves doing unconventional ‘moves’ trying to ‘save’ the ball from hitting the ground! By the way, the teacher should always join in on the fun with this activity.

I seem to remember getting over 100 in the dark ages when playing it in my first year Drama class at uni, but my record with students is (in my opinion a humble) 65. Play it, beat it and post your score on this blog, I say!

One day last year in a junior class, the room had ceiling fans running on a very hot day. Our rubber ball popped mid-game on one of the fans and died instantly. Dramatic as ever, we stopped the game, laughed for a few seconds, immediately impro’d a cemetery scene and lay the ‘dead’ ball against the bottom of a pillar in the corner of our classroom. We had everything but the bugle playing softly in the background. You see, we had given our ball a name a few weeks before, so this death was personal. After a minute’s silence with the class bowing their heads respectfully standing around the dead ball (no, I’m not joking), I ran to my office, grabbed the spare back-up ball, gave this one a name and off we went and continued the game!

The game does have a limited attraction to certain age groups, though ….. loved by everyone from 10 to 100! If you’ve never played Ball Up before, why not give it a go!

1 Response

  1. Ange says:

    i love ball up! its really fun! in drama 1&2, we played ball up as a warm up activity cos its cold in warrnie in the winter. i hate wind and rain! this is a great game to warm you up…you’ll find you need to take your layers off after a while…

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