5 most useful free online sources for training activities

Good icebreakers, exercises, and energisers are essential for an engaging and effective training. It takes careful consideration to choose the right activities for your training, the ones that will fit perfectly with your learning objectives, group size, the profile of participants, and the time available.

UPDATE We have added 4 more links that you, our readers recommended, so be sure to check them out at the end of the article.

You may already have your favourite exercises for different training topics, but as you deliver more and more training, you do not want to use the same ones over and over again. Refreshing your exercises is good for experimenting with new ideas and, more importantly, to avoid doing a popular exercise that some of the participants have already done before. Repeating familiar exercises can alter and disrupt the intended learning experience for the group and leave a bad impression of you as not being innovative enough as a trainer.

Designing a brand new training activity can be exciting and rewarding in the long run but it is very time consuming, and many of us cannot afford to do it. We typically resort to other ways of finding new exercises, from asking our more experienced colleagues to buying a book full of training exercises or downloading licensed materials.

However, finding a proven quality exercises online is not easy. There are many resources online that are not cheap, and yet their quality is questionable. And even with the trusted resources, there is still a lack of essential information that can help you ensure that your planned training activities are conducted in a good way. Information such as evaluation remarks, practical information about how effective was a given exercise for a particular audience, what are the important aspects to pay attention to, when did an exercise work, when did it not, and why, etc. Occasionally, you can find some of this information on professional forums, but not in a structured and easily accessible way.

This is our challenge, the problem we want to solve at SessionLab by creating a structured and searchable repository of training exercises, where you can easily check how has a certain training activity worked previously and how to best use it in your next training.

For now, here is the list of our favourite (and mostly free) online resources for training exercises and materials. We would be thrilled to see which are your proven sources.

  1. Thiagi’s game list has more than 400 free games and exercises with detailed description, facilitation tips, and debriefing questions, ready-to-run for everyone. Without filtering it is not easy to find the exercise you are looking for, but currently the games are being migrated to a new site where you can filter them based on game type and game topic.Thiagi Group's Game List
  2. Businessballs.com is one of the most comprehensive collections of free soft skills training materials online. You can find video clips for teaching and training, teambuilding games, and theoretical background for dozens of training topics. Sometimes, the list wanders off the track a bit (for example with Cockney rhyming slang and funny air traffic controllers quotes), but whatever the material, it is always prepared with passion. The downside is the cumbersome search option that makes finding the right content less than fast.Businessballs.com
  3. TrainerBubble is a provider of training resources and training course materials. You can purchase complete course materials ready to edit, but you can also choose from more than 700 free training resources: icebreakers, energisers, training games, and team building gamesTrainerBubble
  4. Icebreakers.ws contains a collection of more than 50 handpicked icebreakers sorted by group size and icebreaker type. The downside: you cannot copy and paste the text directly from the website although the content is completely free to use.Icebreakers.ws
  5. Trainers’ Lounge is another site offering free access to training activities, training materials, and many other useful resources for trainers.

Apart from the platforms introduced above, there are several established portals in the industry – such as Fenman or GlassTap – with a large database of reviewed and quality assured training materials, but with paid access.

BONUS #1:  Video sharing channels

As far as video sharing goes, YouTube has become the ultimate source to go to in almost every field. You can find a wide array of videos on different topics (e.g. teamwork and collaboration videos) that can be used in your training, giving a good ground for a group discussion or debriefing. Also, you can watch plenty of icebreakers and energizers, and pick those that are most suitable to your training participants.

BONUS #2:  Professional forums

Communities can be of great help in getting feedback or reviews for an idea, or in getting inspiration from other trainers. One example is the AnyAnswers section of TrainingZone with more than 5400 members. There are also plenty of active LinkedIn groups for trainers like:

All these online resources are worth checking out. Hopefully, they will save your time and help you find new training exercises. Let us know in the comments if you missed something on the list.

Update

We are happy to see many of our readers suggesting additional useful resources, hurray for community wisdom! We are adding them here and we will keep this list updated. Don’t hesitate to comment if you have something to add:

  • A few dozen Games and Icebreakers and some other Group Activities from Wilderdom
  • 23 activities sorted into 8 different training topics on TrainingCourseMaterial.com. (Additionally, they offer paid full course packages as well.)
  • More than two hundred free articles and resources to develop people and organisation on Nick Heap’s site. Among them, you can find some exercises and games as well
  • Skillsconverged.com offers a range free training resources: 10 training exercises among many other useful templates