Success in team sports requires teamwork. A group’s ability to move as one and work for each other isn’t always a given. Building Team Chemistry is often a critical step in creating a winning team.
BUILDING BETTER TEAMS – By Susan Kitchen - Rowing – Coaches Association of Ontario
When I think on my most successful season as a competitive rower, what stands out as the difference maker is the concept of TEAM. That season we switched it up daily, sat in any seat in the boat, starboard or port, bow or stroke. We found a way to respect the journey we were going through as a crew. In the end there was a strong belief that our winning performance was a direct result of all pulling in the same direction.
I put a high value on building a team and working at it every day. It’s not about one big thing, but hundreds of small decisions that put team values in the mix. Without a team culture, it’s simply a bunch of people doing the same thing on the same day. Paying attention to the power of a supportive team culture can allow a group of players to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
Mix up the roles
Find opportunities for teammates to see each other with different strengths. Give responsibilities to those who are quiet. Give an organizing role to someone who seems unorganized. Leadership can grow from all different types.
Talk about it
Make a point of setting time to talk about what individuals on the team have in common and what makes each unique. Reinforce the concept by presenting an inventory of the skills across the group that add up and have a cumulative effect.
Know when to intervene when team dynamics seem sour and when to let it work itself out. Not all team strife is bad and sometimes it is a natural part of the journey. At the beginning of something going off the rails, there may a simple way to interject some humour. If it is deeper, an outside person, a change of scenery or a completely different out of the box practice can refocus the team.
We asked Ontario Coaches to share their approaches to building team chemistry.
Coach Joe Benedetti – Softball-Fast pitch
“Team chemistry starts with getting to know your teammates on, but mostly OFF the field. Coaches can do many things to develop team chemistry, like encouraging carpooling, and so many other “getting to know your teammates” activities. Ask yourself the question: “Can I honestly say my athletes are as happy for their teammate’s success as they are their own?” A tough question, but we all know the power of team spirit. Creating lasting friendships is a key goal of any coach, and it starts with team chemistry.”
Coach Henry D – Ice Hockey
“Developing team chemistry on and off the field is very important. Group events such as chain gang runs, scavenger hunts, and Altitude climbing are great ways to develop a positive team culture. Events that physically bind players together force them to work together and trust each other; your team leaders usually surface at these events as well. We have also done a team cooking class to teach nutrition and promote a healthy lifestyle.”
Coach Dallas Price – Rugby
“I think a bonding event is good. I ran a ‘fun’ practice last year. I surprised them at a regularly scheduled practice with a scavenger hunt. I made up teams with girls that didn’t really know each other as well. By the end they all had gotten to interact in much different ways than on the field. It helps them communicate more effectively when they do get back on the field.”
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