Goals of the exercise: a small exercise or demonstration of concentration, tension, relaxation and how strong group influence can be
Age of the participants: 10+
Number of participants: 4+
Duration of the exercise: 30 minutes
Materials: bottle and ping-pong ball

Step by step

  1. The ping-pong ball is placed on the mouth of the bottle. The rules for the task are this:
    • Run to the bottle as fast as possible.
    • Without stopping, flick the ball off the bottle with your fingers.
  2. Most participants will be unsuccessful. On the second and the third round, if the participants stick to the rules, they will still be unsuccessful; the built-up pressure actually increases the error rate.
  3. After this, the group discusses why hardly anyone can snap the ball off the bottle.
  4. In the next round, the rules are changed – now are instructed to snap the ping-pong ball slowly. New rules:
    • Walk up slowly to the bottle.
    • Take a deep breath and relax your shoulders.
    • Snap the ball off the bottle.
  5. This time, most of the participants will snap the ball off the bottle successfully.


This experience can be transferred to real-life situations. Ideas to consider:

  • The power lies in calmness.
  • Who sets the rules? How do I adapt to this?
  • Can I get carried away?
  • Do I change my strategy, or keep trying to overcome the failure?

This experience can also be applied to non-formal learning itself:

  • Changes and new learning do not come with pressure
  • Everyone has to find their own way
  • Everyone has the right to their own point of view

Authorship/adaptation or source: unknown source, adapted by Roter Baum

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