How to Build Team Unity
If you want your team to have success, you need to build unity. It’s not always easy to do when coaching youth sports, but if you use some of the following strategies, the team should run like a well-oiled machine.
If team chemistry made a noise, it would sound like a “click.” When teams click they raise their level of play as teammates cooperate and work together toward their common goal. Most championship teams credit team chemistry as a key element of their success. But, in the limited time available to youth sports coaches, team chemistry is often a challenge for teams composed of kids not already familiar with one another.
Team unity involves building common experiences, skills, emotions, and goals for the players. However, in a short season, practices and games alone may not provide enough time. To build team chemistry quickly, coaches should consider a preseason or early season team meeting with only the players and coaches that helps break the ice and gets players more familiar with their teammates. Some suggested activities include:
- Player introductions where one player asks another a list of questions and then introduces the player to the group.
- Relay races, trivia quizzes, and similar small group competitions with no more than four players per group. Smaller group size helps facilitate player interactions.
- Problem solving activities featuring game situations or strategies that smaller groups of players discuss, solve, diagram, and present to the whole team.
- An after-practice pizza party that gives the players a chance to talk and interact with one another.
By breaking down normal shyness and letting kids get comfortable around their teammates, coaches facilitate an environment where peer support encourages team play. This environment can help the entire team work together and minimize player cliques composed of players who attend the same school, have the same teachers, or have previously played together. Helping all players get along before a game goes a long way to helping players get along during a game.
Editor’s Note: Thank you to Sports Esteem for this article.