January 18, 2018

Meeting Icebreaker: Tummy HA HA

I took this video during a leadership retreat for the SGA leaders of four of Valencia Community College‘s campuses. This is a team building exercise called “Tummy HA HA”. The idea is for the members of the team to have a shared experience, something they can relate to later, joke about, etc. This activity also gets the members of the team out of their comfort zone as they get to relate to each other in a close, but non-threatening way. Things can get silly so it is also a good tension breaker. It also puts members of the team who may be in different levels of leadership on an even plane, other than their ability to contain their laughter.

Dave Kelly - Meeting Icebreaker - Tummy HA HA

Your role as the facilitator is to determine the size of the groups, explain the rules, moderate the action, encourage open participation, and make sure that the teams play fair in determining a winner. You will hear me calling out one of the team members who busted out laughing and making his team start over.


Here are the instructions for this activity if you wish to try it yourself.

Part 1: Getting set up…

1) Divide the teams into even numbers, if possible. An odd extra person really does not hurt this activity. Either choose the team to have the extra member by random, or let the groups choose by playing up to their pride or through some playful trash talking. I like groups of 10-12, although I have done it with less, and with as many as 23. You want to have big enough groups to make it a challenge, but not so big that it becomes an impossible task. The 23 person group was a board that needed to accomplish a task together and they became cheerleaders for each other.

2) The goal is to have every person participate by lying on the floor with their head on the tummy of another team member. They must say the word “HA” without laughing. Each additional team member adds “HAs” based on what number they are in the chain of bodies.

3) Instruct the group to figure out who their most giggly members are. Those are the people whom they want to lie down earlier in the activity. If any member of the group breaks out in laughter at any time, then they must get everyone up and start over.

Part 2: Here are the steps…

1) The team decides what order they will go in;

2) The first member lies on the floor with his/her knees in the air and says “HA”;

3) The next person (#2) lies down, with his/her head on the tummy of the first person and says, “HA, HA”, person #1 then says “HA”

4) The third person in line lies down with their head on the tummy of person #2, and says “HA, HA, HA”, person #2 then says “HA, HA”, and then person #1 says “HA”.

5) Continue to add people in sequence, with their heads on the tummies on the previous person, increasing the number of “HAs” with each person and each person already laying on the floor repeats their number of HAs until each person has done so. Then another person lies on the floor and the sequence begins again.

6) If any person in the sequence laughs, even just, a little, make the whole group get up and start over.

7) Once the group gets each member on the floor and goes through the sequence without laughing, they are done. The first team to make it all the way through, wins.

A fun variation, after the group has successfully completed the task, is to reverse the “HAs” and go back through. For example, if there are 10 people in the group, then the first person on the floor from before now has to say 10 :HAs:, #2, nine :HAs”, and all the way back down the line. If they falter at this, I suggest not making them get up, just have them start over. This part is not a competition, just a little bit of fun.

We did this activity at VCC right before lunch. This is a good activity to do before a break of some sort in your event. It gets everyone loose and having fun and hopefully that carries on through the break. Who says leadership can’t be fun?!


Leadership consists of a set of skills, methodologies and ideas that can be taught.

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About the Author: Dave "Gonzo" Kelly (64 Posts)

Dave Kelly is the leading authority on student leadership and community service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from student government associations, campus activities boards and campus clubs of every kind on organizational leadership and community service projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 150 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

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  1. Carol Jo Pettit says:

    Sounds like a great exercise. 🙂

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