A Super Simple Ice-Breaker Game for Large Groups

Pen Bullfight: Simple, fast and for large groups

Pen bullfight – Breaking the ice for large groups

The Pen Bullfight is great for a quick ice-breaker and a cheerful opener for large groups of people that already know each other. There’s always plenty of laughter and movement involved. Even better, it’s easy as pie and doesn’t require any preparation. Although, one thing to keep in mind: the ice-breaker can be very competitive, so while it could be motivating for some groups, it could be a downer for others. On the other hand, it’s a super-quick energyzer, which comes in handy if you have a large group that has little time on their hands.

How the ice-breaker works:

You balance a pen on each hand. To do that, you lay the pen on top of your index and pinky finger, and balance it from there. (The hand now looks like a bull’s head). Then you have to try and knock pens off other player’s hands. When you lose a pen, that hand has to be held behind your back. The only way you’re allowed to touch others is by hand. The last one balancing a pen on their hand wins.

Watch out for wild and large groups:

Especially in male dominated groups it can get a little intense. That’s why I usually make it clear that the goal is to knock off others’ pens with your hand – and not by doing a full-body tackle. These rules help establish this concept:

  1. Contact only through hands
  2. (Shoulders are not allowed)
  3. You shouldn’t ever avoid a duel with another player

How to start the ice-breaker game:

It’s hard to screw this one up. The first step of “balancing the pen on your hand” is already a little ice-breaker. Therefore you should wait until all players are balancing their pen before you say “Ready, Set, Go”! Especially in large groups it’s important to ensure a collective kick-off, so that everyone has a fair shot. I usually finish the game with a round of applause so that everyone fills up on the positive spirit!

Focus of the warm-up:

With good instructions this ice-breaker focuses the whole group on balancing, knocking off pens and enjoying the game, so that winning the ice-breaker becomes less of a priority.


If you have more time at hand consider playing longer team-building games like  The Marshmallow Challenge or Moon Landing