I did a couple of team-building exercises at my first practice last week. As I mentioned in a previous post, the kids know about one half of the kids or the other, but I think that exercises that force them to interact go a long way breaking the ice and getting the communication flowing.
For example, something I've done for years is get them in a circle, put their right hand on the person in front's shoulder, and the left on the left hip, close in the circle, and make them sit on each others' lap. It's a struggle with nine kids, but it works pretty well with ten or more.
Then there's the whole tangled arms thing. Every kid grabs another kids opposite hand, and they have to untangle themselves without releasing hands. It took about fifteen minutes this time, and thy needed the crutch. The crutch is where you allow them to release and reconnect one hand, but they can't talk thereafter.
I also did the "helium pole" trick. Everyone puts their index fingers out at shoulder level, and you put a tent pole on them. They must lower it to the ground, but if anyone stops touching it they have to start over. It's hilarious to watch everyone start pushing up on it because they don't want to be the one to cause a reset. They found the loop-hole in the rules where I never said they had to keep their fingers straight, and then it was easy.
I also tried the bomb diffusing trick, where you put 30 numbered pieces of paper around the far side of the court in non-sequential order. They get four attempts to cross from the far baseline into the far court and touch all 30 numbers in sequence. They failed on the first try, like they're supposed to, but I was surprised they got it on the second try. Needless to say, this drill facilitates communication and critical thinking. Smart group!