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As mentioned in the previous newsletter there is much more to becoming a Championship Team than the skill level of each player. A vital component of developing a Winning Team Culture is strong team chemistry. Team chemistry if often referred to as that intangible ingredient that makes a team special. bullsThe amount of communication, togetherness, and mutual respect is crucial for the road to success.Team cohesion will help your team rise to greater levels of performance because they will be playing not just for themselves but for each other. I have found that teams, who have a high level of trust and support within the team, will feel safe enough to take risks on the field, and as a result, they will play with freedom rather than worrying about making mistakes on the field.

Here are some additional tips on how to promote team chemistry:

1.Create Team Distinctiveness. You want your team to feel like it’s a privilege to be one of its members. Creating special team bulletin boards, team t-shirts, team slogans/themes will help each player feel unique, which will promote unity. It’s amazing how a team can have a sense of pride from a t-shirt that has a team slogan written on it. One field hockey team that I worked with had a theme of “Hold the Rope.” Hold the Rope was a special story written on what it takes between teammates to win a championship. This team thrived on this theme and went on to win a national championship.

2. Well Defined and Appreciation of Roles. High performing teams have players who are willing and take pride in doing the tough and underappreciated jobs. Successful teams take the time to appreciate the role plfordham-swimayers on the team. Each member of the team should feel they are part of the team and that they contribute something important. Coaches Drill: Circle of Confidence/ Strength Bombardment – Have your team sit in a circle. Focusing on one person at a time, the group must tell this person what they did well/strengths they showed during the week. This person needs to remain silent until the group is finished. The players should be instructed to list at least 3-5 strengths for each player. Only positive assets are to be mentioned. This exercise can be down in a written format.

3. Facilitate Positive Communication. A highly cohesive team will create a safe atmosphere where each player can talk openly and honestly with one another and among coaches. Coaches should keep an open door policy when communicating with their athletes as well as check in AdventEd2015with your athletes to see how they are doing and feeling. One thing to remember about communication is communication is more than just sending someone a message. The skill of listening is vital to the communication process. Listening shows that you care about what your teammates and team members are saying and this is important in building team cohesion and trust between teammates. Communication Drill: Blind/Mute Line Up: Half of your team cannot talk and other half cannot see (use blindfolds). Have your team scattered around the open area so they are at least several feet from each other. Your team’s challenge is to arrange themselves in chronological order of their birthdays with January 1 being on one end and December 31st on the other end. Allow your players at least 15 minutes to complete the exercise. Debrief: Ask each player to share how they felt during this experience. Did
anyone think it was or wasn’t possible to be successful with this exercise? How did the group communicate with each other? Did anyone feel frustrated and how did they deal with the frustration? What made the team successful or what held the team back from being successful? What did we learn from this exercise that will make us a better team?

4. Team Retreats & Activities. Having a preseason retreat is a good way to help your team bond for the upcoming season. Many teams bring in a team building or sport psychology consultant such as myself to facilitate this experience. Many teams that I have worked with have utilized ropes courses, scavenger hunts, had many team dinners, went on team hikes, as well as planning other team social events.

To get more information about Optimal Performance and the services we provide please contact Mr. Keith Waldman at keith@opawinningteams.com or visit our website at www.opawinningteams.com.  For over 15 years Mr. Keith Waldman has been a partner with Optimal Performance Associates, LLC. Keith has been actively involved in a wide variety of athletic programs, K-12 schools, and corporations focusing on teambuilding, leadership, and athletic excellence. He has conducted hundreds of workshops for Division I-III sport teams and high athletic departments across the nation, including State, Conference, and National Championship Teams.  His passion and commitment as well as his educational and professional experience have enabled Keith to make a tremendous impact on many athletic, educational, and corporate teams.


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To learn more about how Optimal Performance Associates can support your team building needs, feel free to email or call us at 1-888-868-3380. We will be happy to answer your questions and to schedule a meeting or phone conference to discuss how we can address your company's specific team building needs.