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JLBC: Bouncing Balls

JLBC: Bouncing Balls

JLBC Cadets' encouragement plays a vital role in motivating others. Positive feedback is very encouraging to group members, while negative feedback can inhibit a group's performance. We should concentrate on encouraging as much as possible to keep from discouraging our members.

Advanced Preparation:

  1. Set up three-ball bouncing areas.

  2. Place a bucket about three feet from the wall.

  3. Make a line approximately 15 feet away from the wall using masking tape.


OBJECTIVES: For youth to:

demonstrate how positive and negative reinforcement can affect motivation and task accomplishment. Discover the relationships between cause and feedback.

Realize the role of leaders as motivational factors in groups.

LIFE SKILLS: Teamwork.

Working with groups. Motivating others.

MATERIALS: Three tennis balls

Three buckets, Three pencils

Three pieces of paper (for scoring)

Masking tape

TIME: 45 minutes


A large room in which the three teams can carry out their tasks without overhearing the comments made by the monitors or the facilitator to the other teams (though three separate rooms - one for each team - is preferable. There must be three walls available that are suitable for bouncing balls against.

Select three volunteers to serve as scorekeepers, and divide the remaining participants into three teams. Explain to the members that they will be bouncing a tennis ball off a wall into a bucket. Each person will be given ten tries; that person's score will be the number of times the ball goes into the bucket. The JLBC team score will be the total of all the participants' scores.

Take the scorekeepers aside and tell one of them to positively encourage the participants in their team ("Way to go!" "Come on, you can do it!" "Good job!" etc.), another to make negative statements to their team ("You can't do that!" "You're no good at this!" "Don't even bother; you probably won't make it!" etc.) and tell the other to make no comments at all.

JLBC Cadets assign a scorekeeper to each team, show each JLBC group their location, and begin the competition. JLBC Cadets, the scorekeeper for each team, records the scores of the members while making comments regarding the participants' performances.

JLBC Cadets, while the teams are competing, casually move from team to section, using the same kind of reinforcement with each group as the scorekeeper does (positive with the first team, opposing with the second team, and no comments with the third team).

When all team members have finished bouncing balls, reassemble the groups and announce the winning team. JLBC Cadets ask the participants if they would like to play again (most likely, Group 1 will want to, while Group 2 will not).

State the activity's goals and explain that the people who have received positive reinforcement were more likely to try harder, while those receiving negative support seemed to give up quicker.

Have the scorekeepers report their observations.

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