Paper Wad Basketball For Employee Wellbeing? You Betcha

Office Basketball Wellness FunQuick: name the most classic, well-recognized methods of killing time at the office. (Think of what people did before the Internet explosion.)

What’d they do? What’d you do?

Naturally, there was chatting with coworkers, but that often was done as long as the boss couldn’t hear you talk.

There was also throwing pens/pencils into the ceiling tiles. I’ve only succeeded at that twice in my life.

And, of course, there was the paper wad basketball.

This bastion of boredom-busting has been a stalwart performer for many years. It’s even been wryly accepted in the work environment, typically by way of those little hoops that attach to the wastebasket.

Paper basketball has even found its way into the mobile games universe. (Anyone up for a game of iPhone Paper Toss?)

Yet it is still looked upon as something to do furtively so that nobody sees you, letting you avoid the sharp-tongued reprimand of a scowling superior. Even the iPhone game does it. The first version featured completely empty office spaces. The second version has some characters in it, one of whom will glower and shake his head at you if you miss and hit his chair. (Of course, you have to be terrifically bad to accomplish that feat.) 

However, today is a new day. As a guy who just succeeded in making a small wad of paper into the kitchen wastebasket, I encourage you to roll out the game in full view of everybody in the office.

In fact, get everybody involved. Receptionist, sales, marketing, head managers, head janitor, CEO, intern… everyone at hand.


Any number of reasons will do.

  • Maybe there’s been an important project that’s been delayed. Everyone’s on edge, stress levels are high, and the general mood of the place is poor.
  • Maybe that big project was just completed, reviewed, and is getting ready to be implemented.
  • A new employee/intern started this week and feels out of place.

If you’re catching on to a pattern in these reasons, I’m proud of you.

The purpose of doing this is to get some stress out of the day. We know how destructive stress is for productivity, for body composition, for mental wellbeing, and for cohesion in the workplace.

Listen, your employees can be active outside the office until the cows come home. Work stress is work stress, and it can get to everyone sooner or later, regardless of how well stress is handled during leisure time. That’ll put a strain on even the best office relationships.

Get people laughing. Do crazy shots (basketball, not alcohol!). Make teams and trade trash talk. Trade even more trash talk. Throw the paper really hard if you’ve had a particularly rough day/week/month. Have a competition to see who makes the most in a minute (or two), and pay for the winner’s (or winners’) lunch that day.

Work might be work, but it shouldn’t be all work all the time.

I won’t suggest that you do this very often, but take an hour during the work day once every few weeks to kick off the heels, loosen the ties and mouths, and throw around some wads of paper.

And if you have a little basketball hoop for the occasion… even better. Get the one that cheers.

Does your office have a harmless little game they play once in a while? Tell us your tale!

This entry was posted in Ideas, Program Design, Stress and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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