ten There’s no “I” in team. Right? Whether you’re a parent, a coach or a player, building a bond between team members is absolutely essential. Not only does team bonding foster good sportsmanship, but it also helps the players to develop their social skills. Along with these benefits, bonding brings the team together and helps them to act as a unit – instead of as individual players who happen to be on the same field or court. So, how can you help the team bond? Check out these ways for bringing the group together and creating that much-needed sense of unity.
Take the Pressure Off
There’s plenty of pressure on the field. When it comes to team bonding activities, taking some of the tension away and making things fun is key. Sure, when there’s a game, meet, match or tournament they focus on doing their best because they are competitors. That doesn’t mean it’s compete, compete, compete all of the time.
Team bonding activities create a sense of togetherness, in a competition-free environment. Let the kids relax, work together, and forget about the win. Make fun the name of the game during bonding activities. This may mean playing silly games (not necessarily the sport itself) or trying activities that encourage socialization over sports. Encourage the kids to let loose and put getting to know and trust each other over anything else.
Mix Things Up
Cliques are common in youth sports. They are also major issues in other areas (such as school). Don’t assume that just because all of the kids are on the same team that they are in the same athletic clique. Team-building and bonding should never equal creating an exclusive clique. You’re helping the team to gel, get along and work together.
It’s also likely that at least a few of the kids have come to the team as friends (or have become fast friends after joining the team). If there are a few mini-cliques on the team, help the players to mix things up and start socializing with some of the other kids (meaning the ones who aren’t in their clique). Let’s say three of them consider themselves best friends. While they’re nice or pleasant when it comes to interacting with the other team members on the soccer team, they mostly keep to their own little clique. This behavior makes bonding as a team difficult, if not impossible.
So, what do you do? You could try a team relay race, splitting the mini-clique up and putting them on teams with kids who they usually don’t talk to. By mixing them in with the other players, you’re helping everyone get to know each other – and reducing the risk of isolation.
Set a Goal
Working to reach a goal is a constructive way to bring the team together, without emphasizing direct competition. Technically the kids are competing. But, they’re not competing against each other and they’re not competing against another team. What they are competing against is an obstacle – an obstacle that they must all overcome together.
Whatever your team bonding activity of choice is, you can find a way to set a goal. Whether the team is going on a scavenger hunt or solving a puzzle together, there’s an objective for them to reach together. The key here is that the players work together. Not only are they learning how to get along with each other, but they are building the ability to take in different perspectives, and respect other people’s opinions. When they do reach that all-important goal, they’ll know that they did it together. That feeling of togetherness will continue both on and off of the field.
Building a team means more than just training or doing drills. It’s about coming together and creating a sense of unity. Taking the pressure off, getting rid of the cliques, and setting goals all add to the experience, and help the team to connect in a way that goes beyond the game.