The Hooping Game

Marlaina Nicole by Christina Berube

You know you’re a hooper when you’re plagued with dilemmas such as “finding your flow” or “getting over a plateau.” It happens to the best of us. Maybe you have been told to mix up the music you are practicing with.This is one solution to get out of a hoop rut, but what about hooping to a song that may or may not be something you have ever heard before, that someone else has chosen for you, and recording yourself while doing so. And the best part of all? Sharing it online with over 1,500 other hoopers from around the globe! What happens when we challenge ourselves to share our vulnerability with others? The Hooping Game on Facebook is getting people out of their comfort zones, into their hoops and creating new hoop friends in the process.

[Jess Wagstrom was challenged to hoop to “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + the Machine (on iTunes). She lives in Arlington, Texas, USA.]

The rules are pretty straightforward: Join The Hooping Game Group on Facebook. You don’t need an invitation to join, but you will need to submit a request to do so by clicking the “Join Group” button. Once you’re a member, make a post stating, “I’m In!” Once you’ve declared that you’re in, you wait for someone to challenge you with a song of their choice. Within 48 hours of receiving the challenge you must post a video of yourself hooping to that song. In return you are responsible for giving a “hit back.” This is your song choice for the person that challenged you, and they must also share a video. Hit backs should be given once you share your video with the group.

Since creating the group two weeks ago it has boomed to over 1,700 members. “This whole thing is about human development for me,” says Hooping Game creator Jedediah Walls. His mission was simple: It sounded like a lot of fun, but as a PhD student in the media psychology field, it was hard to ignore what was being created within this group. “I’m really interested in how people use the internet to grow and become awesome.”

[Alethea Williams was challenged to hoop to “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves (on iTunes). She lives in Bella Vista, Arkansas, USA.]

The game is accessible to hoopers of any ability. It doesn’t matter how long ago you picked up your hoop, how many tricks you know or how good or bad you think you might be, the game is there for you to play. Commenting on how hoopers are supporting each other while playing the game Walls said, “We’re pretty explicit that the game is about growing confidence and people are totally respecting that. I can’t tell you the number of people who have posted that this is their first time making a video or hooping in front of other people.”

Why are so many hesitant to make and share their videos? It is easy to feel intimidated that you aren’t going to be good enough, but everyone has to start somewhere. The Hooping Game might be a great place for doing just that – and there really isn’t a better way to get over a fear than by getting it out of our system. Meanwhile, people are sharing encouragement with one another, helpful tips, discovering new music and inspiration is blossoming. Nothing is taken too seriously, and things tend to get silly with throwbacks to the likes of the Spice Girls and Sir Mix A Lot. It’s just good natured hoop fun. No pressure, no competition. Just sharing. The group is closed so only members of the group can see the videos, which makes it that much more safe for people that are a little shy.

[Hooping Game creator Jedediah Walls was challenged to hoop to “Device Has Been Modified” by Victims of Science, so he spun up something more creative which is rare for Hooping Game videos. He lives in South Bend, Indiana, USA.]

How it is it for the players? Amanda Jill told us, “Being forced to leave your comfort zone and explore new tempos, sounds and speeds of music opens your flow to new movements and transitions between movements. The general challenge of really feeling a connection to new music is also present, but working through that is what makes this game so amazing.” Jacqueline BeBout explained, “This game has gotten me active, given me motivation, encouragement, support and confidence within my hoop!”

[Marlaina Nicole spins her twins after being challenged to hoop to “Ophelia” by The Band.]

Playing the game holds participants accountable and encourages hooping practice as well. People are waiting for their “hit backs” and waiting to see what you have created with the song they have chosen for your video. It’s almost like having hoop homework. There is a task and a due date, and no matter what might be going on in your busy life, you find the time to squeeze in your challenge. Most songs are a few minutes long, though it is incredibly easy to get lost in a hoop session. What starts out as a five minute project could turn into an hour long practice without even realizing it.

[Caroleeena was challenged by Natasha to hoop to “My Feelings For You” by Avicii & Sebastien Drums (on iTunes). She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA.]

The videos being shared in this game are raw and unedited. It is common to see videos where people are dropping their hoops, becoming frustrated, or having a hard time getting into the beat. The game gives you the chance to dive into something unknown that you haven’t listened to before and become more aware of what you’re hearing and how your body is reacting. It is a challenge to move faster or slower than normal. It is a challenge to hoop inside a tiny space. With each video shared, there is something new to learn. A helpful tip: write down your challenges! With so many players it is easy to lose your posts in the feed. Write down the name of the song and who gave it to you and tag them when you post your video so they can find it easily and you can give them your hit back.

“So many people say that the internet alienates us,” Walls says, adding, “And sure it does, in a lot of ways. But The Hooping Game shows how it also can be a force for GOOD, how it can make us get up and dance.” So leave your reservations and fears behind and grab your hoop. This game is uplifting and helping hoopers over their plateaus. Once you start you will most likely want to be in again and again, and don’t worry. There is no limit to how many times you can play. So what are you waiting for, are you in or not?


berube Christina Berube started Hippy Go Lucky Hoops to document her hula hooping tour across the country – from Maine to California and back! She also writes for Go Girl Magazine, blogs and is a hoop dance instructor at her local YMCA in Maine. Watch for her vending hoops and teaching at local music festivals!

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