Skip to main content

Team pipe dream

Work together to roll the ball through the pipes to the bucket. Sounds simple, right?
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Small plastic balls
  • Footballs
  • Lengths of pipe or gutter
  • Buckets

Before you begin

  • If you can’t get hold of guttering or pipes, you could use cardboard bent into curves. You could also mix the materials to make it more challenging. You’ll need a pipe for each player.
  • Use whatever balls you have, but make sure they roll through (or along) the pipes. Everyone likes a challenge but getting a rugby ball through a small pipe might be a bit too ambitious! You’ll need a suitable ball for each team.
  • Put the bucket at one end of the meeting space. Put the pipes at the other end – the distance between the pipes and the bucket should be a little bit longer than the length of one team’s pipes, so they have to move some of their pipes during the challenge.
  • Put some big obstacles between the pipes and the bucket. Tables work well; you could also use cones.

The first run

  1. Everyone should split into teams.
  2. Each team should stand at the end of the space with the pipes. They should take one pipe each.
  1. Each team should spend 30 seconds to get into a suitable position. It’s not a lot of time – they’ll have to think on their feet.
  1. Someone should release the ball at the end of the pipes.
  2. Everyone should try to make sure the ball ends up in the bucket. They mustn’t touch the ball once it’s been released.
  3. People can move around if the ball isn’t in their piece of pipe. If the ball’s in a player’s piece of pipe, they cannot move their feet. The pipes can’t touch obstacles.
  4. If anyone breaks one of these rules, the ball stops moving, or the ball falls out of the pipes, the team must start again.

Try, try again

  1. Each team should come back together. Did they manage to get the ball to the bucket?
  2. Each team should plan how they’ll try again. What route will they try? Who’ll stand where? How will people move? What roles will different people do – will there be a leader?
  3. Everyone should try again, with the same rules as before. Hopefully, they’ll find it a bit easier and the ball will make it home to the bucket this time.
  4. Everyone should come back together and think about how successful their attempts were. Did the planning help? Did anyone find there was a middle ground between having no plan and overthinking?
  5. Everyone should take it in turns to share the problems their team found during the challenge. Perhaps there was an especially tricky obstacle, for example, or it was difficult to control the speed of the ball. How did the teams work together to overcome the problems?
  6. Everyone should chat about whether leadership was important in this activity. Did anyone take a leadership role in the first run, before anyone planned roles? Did it make a difference to assign a leader before everyone tried again?
  7. Finally, everyone should think about how important communication was for this activity. Did it make a difference? How did the others teams’ attempts affect each team? Would it have been easier if they were one big team?


This activity needed everyone to problem solve and work as a team. It may have been tempting to get the ball rolling as soon as possible, especially in the first run. Did this work, or was it more useful to pause for a moment to think about a plan? Did people take on different roles in each team? How did people have to move to solve problems – was it best to be super quick and agile, or was it also useful to be slow and deliberate? Did people find that their team naturally fell into roles, or did they have to try hard to make sure different people did different things? Do people have favourite roles in teams? For example, some people might love to lead, while others find it exciting to suggest ideas or are really good at putting plans into practice.


Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.