M & M Arm Wrestle

Type of strategy: CollaborationEnergizers and State ChangersGamesMovementOpeners & Get to Know You

Teambuilding Game: Earn as many points as you can before time runs out.


  • Group Size: 2 - 200
  • Age Range: elementary – adult
  • Intensity:  Mental=1, Physical=1
  • Time: 5 minutes
  • Space: Minimal – Medium -- Lots
  • Set Up Time: 60 seconds
  • Props: One bag of M&M candy


Earn as many points as you can before time runs out.

Setup / Preparation

  1. Have people partner up and ask them to assume the traditional “arm wrestling” position.  I like people to lie on the floor and get in the arm wrestling position (yes, even with adults) however; if tables are easily available you can use them.  Part of the setup for this is to actually use this phrase “Please get in the arm wrestling position.”  Using this phrase will plant a seed that will influence the actions of the participants.
  2. The following directions are then given to the group: 
  3. “Your challenge is to earn as many points as you can before time runs out.  You (individually) earn a point when the back of your arm wrestling partner’s hand touches the ground.” (Demonstrate this for the group)  “You will have 10 seconds from the time I say GO.”
  4. Then say “Go!” after you’ve given the instructions. 
  5. After 10 seconds is up say “Stop!” and then see how many points people have earned.  What usually happens (99% of the time) is very few points (if any) are earned because people spent all their time actually arm wrestling rather than working together.  I’ll give the group a couple of tries until they start to “get it”.


See the description above.

Safety Warning

If someone has a hand, arm, shoulder or back injury they should not participate.


  1. This activity has been around for a while and yet, most of the people I meet haven’t played it.  Once you know the “trick”, it’s easy to earn LOTS of points.  The trick is to work together (win-win) with your partner by allowing your arms to go back and forth and back and forth very quickly.
  2. If you’re wondering where this game gets its name, here’s the explanation - - for every point earned, people get one M&M candy.  Getting to eat candy is usually great incentive for kids although I’m not much for giving kids more sugar. 

Debriefing Suggestions

  1. The way I usually debrief this activity is to ask the groups to form into groups of 7 – 10 people making sure someone from each of the previous work groups is represented in this new discussion group.  I then ask them to discuss the following (I show this to them on a piece of paper: Lose – Lose, Win – Lose, Win – Win
  2. That’s usually all it takes for the small discussion groups to have a good conversation.  I give the small groups 5 or 10 minutes to discuss ideas and then we meet back as a large group to share insights.
  3. Common insights: Lose-Lose and Win-Lose require lots more energy and this type of thinking produces less (points) for all involved. We must be on the look out for Win-Win opportunities from the outset.
  4. Sometimes I get this…”OK, this win-win stuff is all fine and dandy Tom, but I just want to show my domination in a game of arm wrestling.  What’s wrong with that?”  Well, there’s nothing “wrong” with that type of thinking.  I play competitive sports and I love to win (but not at the expense of relationships).  The challenge is the application of this “win at all costs and in all situations” attitude is that it’s un-sustainable and very costly and it’s unattractive.  People need to get their competitive “yah-yah’s” out in an appropriate venue (like playing some kind of sport).  Going for the jugular, especially with people on your own team, is counterproductive.


International Association of Teamwork Facilitators

Submitted by: Jennifer Arns