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Team Building: More Important than Strategy

by Sean Glaze Great Results Team Building

I have been coaching high school basketball now for 17 years. I started out as a freshman boys coach, worked as a jv boys coach, became a varsity girls coach for a couple of years, and now am going into my third season at a boys varsity program. Along the way, I have spent countless hours at coaching clinics, researching on the internet, visiting college practices, and conversing with other coaches to learn more about various offensive sets, defensive philosophies, and the details or teaching points that help to make them successful.

Over those many seasons, my changing personnel often dictated that we adapt a system to their talents, and I do think that what you choose to run has an impact on the type of season you enjoy, as it is difficult to expect a round peg to fit well in a square hole.

Having acknowledged that point, I will admit that it took a long time for me to finally recognize that team work, peer accountability, and self talk were FAR MORE IMPORTANT than the X's and O's I spent so much time chasing.

After being introduced a few years ago to the impact of teambuilding and team toughness activities, I was amazed to see the results that those games or drills and the discussions that followed them could have on transforming a splintered group into a committed team with improved leadership and a true shared purpose who appreciated and cared for their teammates.

Teamwork is about relationships, commitment, and accountability - and those values will remain with your athletes long after their uniform is turned in. While giving yourself a more successful season, you will also be giving your athletes the tools for a more successful and significant life by introducing them to activities that inspire trust, better self talk, and team accountability.

Anything worth doing takes teamwork - even if some on the team don't get the spotlight of recognition, they are there making team success possible. The greatest thing you can teach your players is the importance of becoming a small contributing part of SOMETHING GREATER than themselves.

I assure you that the new drill or offense you have been studying on video's or going to clinics to discover will NEVER have half the results or impact of a teambuilding games session where your athletes improve team leadership, self talk, and mental toughness.

So once you decide that teambuilding and mental toughness is a priority, how do you go about instilling it? I think it begins with defining the process as one of your team gals for the season. It must be clear to your players that YOU believe - in order to accomplish every other goal - that this one will be an emphasis for your program.

Start by defining for your athletes that TEAM BUILDING is the ON-GOING process of energizing a group to work together with an appreciation of diversity and talents and commit to their role in achieving the team's chosen goals.

You likely publish your team goals each season- and put together a practice plan to get them better equipped to perform on the court - but it should be a significant part of your season to also commit to planning for their growth as a unit that cares for each other, that recognizes individual strengths, and that holds peers accountable for reaching the goals they choose.

You wouldn't expect your players to play great defense without spending tremendous time and effort on building their skills and doing shell work every week. Teamwork and trust are things you build the same way- from the fundamentals of how to talk to themselves amid adversity, how and what to say to teammates in practice, to how they interact and establish roles as leaders in group problem solving activities. Teambuilding teaches the importance of communication, creates an awareness of the importance of trust, and provides challenges that serve as lessons that your team can apply to their own specific situation.

When I work with teams, the general progression of successful teambuilding remains the same- whether it is a volleyball team, a basketball team, or a team of businessmen.

All GREAT TEAMS, whether overtly identified or not, have the following in common:

  1. Goals and Gear
  2. Rapport and Relationships
  3. Expectations and Encouragement
  4. Accountability and Adjustments
  5. Toasts and Transfer
Every team, once formed, has goals and gear to accomplish it with. Once the group is "on the boat together," they must identify their destination and the tools they have available to get there.

Once they identify that shared purpose, GREAT teams take time to learn about and appreciate the background and talents of its members, and bonds together through shared experiences and activities.

Once aware and appreciative of individual talents, the team takes another step forward by identifying roles and they push themselves to contribute according to their strength. This also is where teams must begin to encourage and share positive comments when teammates display the work ethic or performance that is required for success.

If every TEAM member takes pride in committing to the team goal, and is willing to accept his teammate's positive comments, he must also be willing to demand, and get held accountable for not meeting, that standard of performance. We correct those we care about- and during the season, roles will need to be adapted to overcome challenges along the way.

Great teams are made stronger throughout their journey by celebrating small victories along the path. It is important to recognize accomplishments and contributions - we always get more of what we reward. And when the journey ends, great teammates learn to carry the lessons about teamwork and adversity to the next season and into other arenas of their life where teamwork is required for success as well.

These steps are all part of a process that can be facilitated through teambuilding activities- from something as simple as a human knot exercise, to a personality inventory and discussion, to a rapport building honesty circle, to a physical challenge like "tennis ball transport." The growth of our program has come because of what we do to bring our athletes together fro more than because of what we do with our secondary break options.

What our athletes do on the floor, and how well they do it, has been tremendously influenced by the relationships and accountability that developed in our locker room through the many planned activities designed to create that camaraderie.

If your team is underachieving, or if you feel that your program's culture needs a boost of energy and trust, consider the benefits of teambuilding. For coaches who desire to do it alone, there are many resources available to you on the internet…

If you would prefer to have the help of someone who has done this successfully with many different teams, please feel free to visit my website at www.greatresultsteambuilding.com

Look over the articles, links, and teambuilding events offered - and consider having your team enjoy the GREAT RESULTS that these activities offer!

NOTICE:All material on this web site is copyrighted. No article may be reproduced or redistributed in any form or manner without the expressed written consent of the respective author. Commercial reproduction is not permitted without the written permission of the Coaching Staff at PowerBasketball.


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