Team-Building Tips for Coaches

Think team building is just cheesy exercises on a corporate retreat? Think again. Here's a quick primer to give coaches the ability to build a more unified and cohesive squad and develop that ever-elusive team chemistry.

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How Team Building Works

Team-building activities embrace and encourage adaptation, creativity, risk-taking, the development of problem solving skills and helps individuals of all ages to trust, cooperate, risk, achieve and grow. I have personally used team-building activities with boys and girls and men and women from ages 6 to 65.

These types of activities provide a holistic strategy, and action-based learning environment for cultivating specific performance enhancements, including:

  • Goal-setting
  • Communication
  • "In the moment" problem solving
  • Emotional control and intelligence
  • Anxiety management strategies
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What is Team Chemistry?

I try to challenge people's assumption that team chemistry is a noun, a thing, something you have and that simply exists. Rather, I ask them to envision "team chemistry" as a verb, something you do, something that is fluid, kinetic and action-based.

Team chemistry is fundamentally a problem of action, of individuals and groups doing and being active in developing the intricate web of connections that exist among any group composed of diverse people, talents, roles and abilities.

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Factors to Consider

If you want to include team-building activities into your practices you should consider several key variables and tailor the initiatives to your particular group, level and activity. These variables include:

  1. The age and maturity of the group (age, gender, level, goals, etc.)
  2. The readiness of the group (safety, conflict tolerance, guidance required, etc.)
  3. The length of time available for the program (per session and number of sessions per year and over what period of time.)
  4. The specific goals of the program for your particular team at a particular point in the season (trust building, communication, cooperation, competition, fun, problem solving, leadership, etc.)

Once you've made the decision that team-building activities will be part of your season and you've thoughtfully answered the four questions listed above, then it's time to begin to actually plan the types of activities you'll be including for your team.

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About the Author

Dr. Colleen Hacker, Sports Psychology Contributor

Colleen Hacker Ph.D., is a Professor of Movement Studies and Wellness Education at Pacific Lutheran University, as well as consultant for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

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