Awesome training tool – thumballs

Imagine that you want to improve customer service within your team or sales – just as an example.  You might put together some training exercises based around helping your customer service team to improve the way they dealt with customers and customer complaints.  You might introduce some role-playing games to really embed the new training techniques you have taught your team.  Well, what about this toy?


The idea is to basically toss the ball around the team.  When a person catches the ball, they have to read out the complaint written on the ball underneath their right thumb and you either brainstorm the way to deal with that, or and this is harder, the person holding the ball has to explain how they would deal with that complaint.

What the thumball says:

  1. Your people are so rude.
  2. I can’t get anyone to help me.
  3. You’re not listening.
  4. I’ve explained my problem to 10 people!
  5. This is made so cheap.
  6. Why is this so expensive?
  7. That’s not what your colleague told me.
  8. You’ve kept me waiting for SO long.
  9. Why isn’t anyone getting back to me.
  10. This isn’t what I thought I was getting.
  11. You just don’t care about your customers.
  12. You sent the wrong thing.
  13. This is too complicated.
  14. You’re so slow!
  15. Can’t you give me a discount?
  16. No one told me the return policy.
  17. It’s your fault.
  18. I need it NOW!
  19. You don’t know your own products
  20. I was told they are in stock.

Once you’ve got the ball rolling, so to speak, you could then add on different scenarios etc.  The thumball simply helps you to break down the initial barriers by turning the role playing into a game.

Of course you can also use the same technique for brainstorming innovative ideas and solutions.  Perhaps you have a team working on identifying problems (opportunities for greatness) within your organisation.  Once you have identified them, write them on a blank ball with a sharpie and then let the game begin.  Once again, the person holding the ball has to come up with a new idea to solve the problem underneath their right thumb on the thumball.  The large blank thumball has 30 panels to write on, so plenty of space for inspiration!

For example:

  1. How can we improve customer product awareness?
  2. How could we lower the lead time to meet the growing customer need?
  3. There is a growing trend towards online ordering, how can we grab this hidden opportunity?
  4. How can we involve our operating teams in the innovative process?


I’m sure you get the idea.  I’ve used these balls several times in the past to great effect, and there are several different ones available.  When one of my colleagues asked me for some new and exciting icebreakers today – well this is one of the first that I thought of!  I hope you find it as useful as I do.  Just in case, here is the link to the site where you can buy them. Please note, I am not affiliated in anyway – I just find them to be a really cool training toy!  What do you think?  I suspect they could be useful even during presentations and conferences to get the ball rolling and get people involved.  I’d love to hear how you would use them – it might inspire me too!

(Images courtesy of


Alesandra Blakeston

5 thoughts on “Awesome training tool – thumballs

  1. Excellent Idea, I like the way you organized your post, it was very easy to read. This is an awesome idea and is very useful in my line of work as a security consultant. Many times we have to come up with practical, effective, and creative ways to solve problems from security threats. I am going to reblog this on my site. Thanks for this information and I will make sure people know it came from you.

    David M. Hechler
    Arcem Security Consulting and Training

  2. What fun! Physical stimulation is always great ice breaker — and good for just after lunch. I like this better than throwing a Gush at someone to prompt them to give a response or add an idea. They are responding to the toss and a specific customer response. Thanks Ann

    1. I must admit I’ve never used a gush before, but well, thumballs work for me. I also agree that physical games work better than paper ones. It gets the energy in the room flowing. Thanks for stopping by!

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