The Trust Fall Team Building Activity

Two people enjoying a team building task.

Safe Team Building

If you search Google images for ‘team building’ you will find several examples of a well known activity called the trust fall. It is an old favourite of trainers and basic team building providers. It is so easy to do that many people who are putting together their own event to avoid the cost of hiring in an (insured) professional will include it in their programme. It is one of the most dangerous things that you can possibly do and every year people suffer injuries from being dropped by their colleagues. Sometimes these injuries are serious.

Health and safety gets a bad name and studies have recently shown that a lot of the stories that you hear are not actually true, but that’s for another blog. Well designed team building activities are safe for the participants and you don’t lose any of the enjoyment or fun, in fact they are well designed enough to be a great deal better and more effective than falling backwards off a table.

So, if you have found this blog as a result of a search for ‘The Trust Fall’ and you’re considering doing it with your team; please don’t.


  1. Health & Safety Training · January 27, 2011 Reply

    It’s good to see someone taking responsibility for health and safety in their own industry. The Trust Fall is one of several dangerous activities that companies undertake in the name of team building. Why take risks when there are better activities that you could do instead.

  2. Eddie Miles · March 27, 2011 Reply

    I disagree with your assessment. The Trust fall is perfectly safe when supervised by an experienced and competent instructor. It has great value in bonding a team and building trust and it is also low cost compared to many of the activities on offer so it can be used my schools and voluntary groups.

    • James Coakes · March 29, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Eddie. An experienced and competent instructor will certainly mitigate the risk but isn’t it those occasions when low cost is the objective that the instructors are most likely not to have that experience?

  3. Fun Team Building Criticism « Fun Team Building Activities · April 23, 2012 Reply

    […] on this and, typically, examples of the types of activities used for team building included trust falls (which we don’t recommend for health and safety reasons), massages from colleagues […]

  4. paulomealha · May 10, 2012 Reply

    I never liked that sort of things.

  5. sunshineflgirl · May 10, 2012 Reply

    I have never liked trust falls and have actually lost points in a class because I refused to do it. I have seen too many people miss and I don’t really believe that they build that much to team efficiency or trust. So what? You caught me? That means I trust you now? I think it’s laughable, really.

  6. ransae · May 10, 2012 Reply

    Reblogged this on Ransae's Blog.

  7. Rikki Arundel · May 10, 2012 Reply

    My concern about a lot of team building work is that many groups are not teams – they are competitors. I have worked with sales teams a lot – and under the surface is ferocious competition for position. I suspect this is why trust exercises fail. Far better to get competitive teams engaged in competitive activities to bring that to the surface. Competitive teams engaging in trust exercises, especially those with strong dominate males in them, will often find a way to compete covertly such as playing chicken or pranking to get one up on a competitor.

    • James Coakes · May 10, 2012 Reply

      You make some good points, Rikki. Competition exists within most businesses, it’s not just an external thing. Well managed competitive events which allow participants to express their competitiveness without damaging relationships can be very useful and enable people to let off natural steam. When the issues are deeper it is essential to plan the right activities and to have experienced facilitators on hand on the day to moderate what happens and lead the team to the best possible outcome. That’s the difference between a professional team building outfit and a company who simply call activities general team building.

  8. attractitude · May 10, 2012 Reply

    Great point. Thanks for sharing. there are plenty of safe team building activities out there to chose from.

  9. Nicolas · May 11, 2012 Reply

    Don’t believe everything you googled. Discuss with your peers and get some professional advice before implement any cost effective play.

  10. Distrustful · October 2, 2012 Reply

    A Trust Fall exercise was carried out by a teacher at a primary school without mats or helmets. It was falling off a table in the playground whilst blindfolded. A boy slightly injured his head. The Health and Safety inspector went to investigate a few months later and concluded that she could not identify any notable breach that could have resulted in this alleged incident! The boy and spotters were 10 and 11 year olds. Any views on suitability of Trust Falls with kids?

    • James Coakes · October 2, 2012 Reply

      I wonder what that Health & Safety Inspector actually does in his job. The proof is in the outcome, a child was hurt. Since I wrote this article Trust Falls have continued to trend on Youtube with new examples of so called ‘Trust Fall Fails’ most days. It’s presented as funny but people are being hurt.

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