Time: 70 minutes for 6 People

Requirements: HourGlasses, sticky notes and felt-pens

Agile Tennis SetUp


Based on the concept of Tennis, I created Agile Tennis for creative problem solving and usage in Retrospectives and Team Meetings

Agile Tennis draw

The Purpose of this Empirical Experience exercise is to create discussions among Participantsin a ping-pong style for grasping different perspectives for challenging situations which need to be handled. In addition it trains TeamWork.


Depending on the count of Participants you can do single Agile Tennis or an Agile Tennis Tournament.
For a Single Match you need 3 People – TennisPlayer A, TennisPlayer B and one Referee.
If you have 5 Participants, you can create Tennis Teams playing a ‘double’ – Team A (TennisPlayer 1 & TennisPlayer 2), Team B (TennisPlayer 3 & TennisPlayer 4) and one Referee.

See the following Picture for Constellations:

Agile Tennis Constellations

  • the min. of Participants is 3 People
  • Having 4 Ppl, you have the Set of 3 plus one Observer
  • Having 5 Ppl, you can play a ‘Double’ as shown in the Picture
  • Having 6 Ppl, you can play the ‘Double’ with one Observer or twice the 3-constellation
  • Having 7 Ppl, you can create one regular 3- and one 4-constellation (3plus1 Observer)
  • Having 8 Ppl, you can create one 3- and one 5-constellation


First, give all Participants some IndexCards and a TimeBox of 5 minutes to create as much as possible ‘Problems’, ‘Challenges’, or ‘Situations’ they are/were confronted with. Let them wright them down in keywords. Let them do this in silence so that every individual collects her own ‘library’ of ‘ProblemCards’

Let Player A and Player B, resp. Team A and Team B, sit on a table facing each other. The Referee is sitting at the table too.

The Referee has a basket with little ‘motivators’ – some sweets -as she gives each Player who wins a Point one ‘KinderSchokoBon’, representing that Point.


The Referee has also two different colour of StickyNotes available, a pen and a hour glass for 30 Seconds – you can also use a watch, but it’s even better when every Participant is able to see as time goes by.

Start Wimbledon

Start the first Game – you play two Sets of 5 Minutes each.
In the first Set, Player A (resp. Team A) serves first, in the second Set, Player B (resp Team B) serves at the beginning.

To Serve means to state one(!) Problem/Challenge/Situation. The Referee writes down that Topic on a red StickyNote. Players have exactly 30 Seconds to state their topic. After the Serve of a Team, the second Team has now 30 Seconds to state a possible Solution for the Serve of the first Team!
The Referee writes down the possible Solution on a green StickyNote. Now it’s the first Team’s turn again and they have to state why they can’t do or accpet the Solution of the other Team. The Referee writes down the Refusal again on a red StickyNote and afterwards it’s again the turn of the second Team which needs to state a possible Solution for the Refusal, Referee writes down and son on…


In worst Case, the whole Set, ‘5 Minutes’, every Player – or Team – try to win the Set and states a Problem, Solution, Refusal, Solution, Refusal, Solution and so on until the Time is over. That’s exactly the point where the rules need to be applied.
There are just 3 simple rules:

Agile Tennis Rules

  • The Statements should be ‘spontaneously’, despite the Preperation of the Individual-List in the beginning
  • The Statements should be ‘OpenMinded’ and People should OpenMinded during the Game, let the flow flow!
  • All Participants go for ‘FairPlay’ (Statements – must be realistic and should be accpeted when appropriate)

The Referee has the last word – if she decides to score a Team or Player then it is as it is – could be discussed after the Game, not during!
The Referee controls the HourGlass, when 30 Seconds are over she turns it or has to decide if a Team / Player scores.

When does a Player / Team score?

  • If a Team / Player wasn’t able to state within 30 Seconds, the other Team / Player scores
  • If a Team / Player accepts that a Solution is appropriate, the other Team / Player scores
  • If a Team / Player accepts that she don’t has a Solution for a Problem/Challenge/Situation, the other Team / Player scores

The Referee can and should decide if one Team / Player need to accept the Statement of the other Team / Player
When one Team / Player scores within the Set, she has now to Serve and continue by stating a new Problem/Challenge/Situation.
The Referee distributes the Sweets when a Team / Player scores.

After the first Set of 5 Minutes, the second Team starts the next Set by Serving a Problem/Challenge/Situation. The Facilitator keeps this TimeBox of 5 Minutes and is the overall responsible as there might be more than just one Team Playing Agile Tennis at a Meeting, maybe you’re doing an Agile Tennis Tournament…!

Visualizing the Outcome

For visualizing the Outcome of this exercise, create a ScoreBoard, as known from regular Tennis, or create something similar which fits you.

Agile Tennis - visualizing the outcome


At the end of the Meeting you make a debriefing with all Participants

  • How do you feel?
  • How did you felt during the ‘Tennis-Discussion’?
  • How did you felt when Referee decides to score the other Player / Team?
  • Did you felt as a TeamPlayer?
  • What shall we do with the outcome?