The Human Knot

The human knot game

The Human Knot is a great team building game for kids and a cool ice breaking activity for adults. The main feature of the human knot is its simplicity. The objective of this game is to loosen the seemingly complicated network of human hands.


Equipment: None

Group Size: 8-20

Time: 20 minutes

Effective Age Group: 5 and above

How to play The Human Knot Game?

  • Players stand in a circle and shake hands with random person, with each hand connected to a different person creating a network of entangled human bodies known as a “knot”
  • The players now make an attempt to get their bodies out of the network but in doing so they must not let go of their hands.
  • The game is ended after everybody has freed their bodies from the “knot”.Rachel McNeill’s Video has a pretty good demonstration of this game.


  • This game can also be played with a player becoming a director and passing other players instructions on how to get out of their knot without the director being involved in the game.
  • This game can also be played as a team sport with multiple teams competing against each other to become the fastest team to simplify their knots.

Key Takeaways:

  • As a facilitator, make sure no player is holding hands of an adjacent player as it will be too easy for that player to get out of the knot making the game unfair to the rest.
  • Also as a facilitator, make sure the communication is mainly verbal. There will be tendency of a lot of pulling and pushing between players. Encourage them to talk their way out of the knot and not use more physical means.
The game-play of human knot
  • Add time limit to increase the difficulty level.
  • Bear in mind, at the start of the game, it seems that little to no progress is being made. It is because the mind is completely lost in the network of hands and the brains can not figure any way out but as players get involved in the game, they find a way to resolve the problem (Like depicted on picture to the right)
  • The players can not break their hands from the “knot” however they are allowed to change their grip.
  • There may be some cultural issues about touching some body parts, so pay attention to that.
  • Simply restart the chain if players are found guilty of unclasping and re-clasping  their hands.

Learning Outcomes:

  • This game helps to build cooperation between the players as they learn that cooperating is the only way they can get out of the knot.
  • The human knot also helps bolster the communication skills between players.
  • When used as ice breaker, the human knot helps to know the name of fellow players. Set a rule that players can be called by name only and set penalty in other cases.
  • When played with a director, your instructional skills are also put into test.
  • When played against the time, this game also teaches the skill of time management.