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Trust Activities

Trust Lean

Description of a Trust-building Activity

James Neill
Last updated:
13 Nov 2004

Trust Lean

  • Create a careful, concentrating, respectful tone.  Watch out for bravado; focus on trust and care.

  • Sequence appropriately e.g., after icebreakers, name games and initial get to know you activities, but often before or as part of  team building activities.

  • If possible, use Trust Lean as part of a progression of trust-related activities, e.g., from Willow in the Wind to Trust Lean to Running Free to Slice N Dice

  • Ask participants to find a partner of similar height and weight; same-sex pairs are not essential, but often occur

  • One person is the Faller and one the  Catcher.

  • Faller must have adopt the falling posture:

    • standing upright

    • feet together

    • hands across chest, resting on shoulders

    • tight butt cheeks and keep body stiff (to avoid buckling)

    Catcher is taught "spotting"

    • one leg in front of the other,

    • arms extended,

    • "give" with the weight, taking it mostly through the legs.

  • Start with small falls, then build. 

  • Establish clear communication calls (like climbing calls), e.g.,

    • Faller: "I am ready to fall.  Are you ready to catch me?"

    • Catcher: "I am ready to catch you.  Fall away."

    • Faller: "Falling."

    • Catcher: "OK"

  • After about 5-10 minutes, swap Catchers and Fallers.

  • Can progress to Trust Falls & Dives from chairs, tables, etc. with whole group catching.

  • Debrief

    • Ask partners to share with each other:

      • What made you feel trusting? (e.g., clear communication, positive encouragement, etc.)

      • What made you feel less trusting (e.g., laughing/joking, lack of communication, etc.)

    • Invite people to contribute to a group discussion about what things their partner did to make them feel more or less trusting.

Equipment: large area preferably with soft ground e.g, grass.

Time: ~20-30 mins

Brief description:

In pairs of similar size, one becomes a Faller and one the  Catcher.  Teach methods for spotting, falling and catching.  Start small and build to bigger falls, then swap.  Debrief - what made you feel more or less trusting?