Take a look at teams that have had great success. It is never a secret that teams who make post season, win state, win conference tournament, or make a splash at nationals have talented players, maybe even All- Stars. But have you ever seen a team that is completely outmatched in talent but still seems to pull through to win?
Take the 2014 Kansas City Royals for example. I have heard people say time and time again that if they had been asked if the Royals had a chance at the World Series back in June, they would have answered with a fixed NO! The question I relay back is…Why?
Is it because Billy Butler, our DH, only hit 9 HR and had 66 RBI? Is it because Big Game James Shields was only successful through 75% of the season due to being 32 years old or maybe that our 2nd rotation starter, Ventura, is only 23 and has little to no experience, or possibly that Mike Moustakas is STILL in the line-up when he has struggled at the plate all year? And last but not least, because this team has had zero post season experience in the last 29 years? Why then, were the KC Royals so successful this past year? In my personal opinion the answer is easy, Team Chemistry.
I know there are many people in the area who are not Ned Yost fans, but one thing you have to give the Kansas City Royals Manager credit for is his continued effort to build Team Chemistry and lead a team that had, in some eyes, mediocre talent into the World Series.
Team Chemistry is comprised of so many things, but the things that I find most important are listed below…
Common Goals/ Vision
Attitude / Effort
The first part of building Team Chemistry is making sure that everyone is on the same page. What is it that your team is trying to accomplish? What is attainable and what is not? I encourage you to make sure your team has goals that will stretch their ability as well as have success. Making goals and having a vision together ensures that everyone is working towards the same thing therefore making individual and team practice more meaningful and focused.
Does your team have team leaders? A person or persons that create a spark, someone that can get things going even when nothing seems to be going right. This person should be the voice of the team, should walk the walk, and talk the talk. This person must also be respected and trusted by all teammates. The last piece of this is having followers; people who are willing to listen and do what they are asked to do.
Leadership and followers also falls into the team roles category. Making sure that all of your athletes understand and embrace their role is beyond important and usually eliminates the “cancers” of the team. Making sure your leaders understand their role, as well as the followers understand theirs. It is also important that each athlete understands their role in the dugout and on the field. You want to make sure that each athlete “buys into” doing the role, no matter how big or how small, to the best of their ability.
Attitude and Effort
Everyone has heard that you can only “control the controllables”. I would make sure to stress this to your team and make it known that the 2 things that can always be controlled are your attitude and effort. If you can ensure that your team is giving 100% in attitude and effort at all times, you are bound to have a great season. Great things happen to teams that never quit (100% effort) and who never get down (100% attitude).
Trust and Support
Last but not least, to make anything work you have to make sure you trust each other. You have to trust your coaches and your teammates. You need to make sure you allow your athletes enough time to learn about each other and their qualities. It is also key to make sure that support and congratulations are going around. HIGH FIVES are HUGE! Creating a positive and supportive atmosphere as much as possible will go so far (especially for female athletes).
How to create good Team Chemistry
Taking the time to work on these things is important and as a Coach you need to make them known as important or your athletes will struggle with buying into “Team Chemistry”.
I would say that most successful college/pro teams do all of the following things…
Meetings at the beginning, middle, and end of the yearDiscussions about achievements, goals, strengths and weaknesses
Plans to understand how to strive towards your goals.
Leadership TrainingCreate a Leadership Team (Training or discussion of leadership qualities)
Set Team Captains
Set Goals (Team and Individual) or Vision for the season
Team Building activities that promote leadership, listening, following, communication, and trust.
Activities together outside of practiceFund raising or Community Service
Movies, games, picnics, eating as a team, sleep overs, sporting events, concerts
(Having a “team party” at the beginning of the year or end of the year is NOT ENOUGH!)
How to make this happen?
There are multiple ways to make this happen. As stated above, beginning and end of year parties are great, but if this is all you are doing, it is not going to cut it. I would suggest taking 10 minutes at the end of each practice or at least 1 time a week and allow your team to do a team building activity. The team building activity does not need to take a ton of time, but it does need a focus. Maybe it is an activity where the athletes have to communicate or work through a frustrating situation. It may be an activity that forces them to trust one an- other. You make pick 1 athlete that is forced to lead and the other to follow. No matter what activity you choose, give it structure and make sure to discuss both the easy things and the struggles that went along with it. By taking time to make this a part of your weekly routine, your team will learn to work together, learn to trust and communicate, as well as learn to follow when needed.
If you are interested in taking the time to make this happen, we offer this service at our Strictly Softball South location. There are a few options from which to choose.
This option is 2 hours and includes coming out to our South Location and your team going through different activities without Coach Involvement. All of the activities are planned ahead of time by our instructors and are catered to your team needs.
This option is also 2 hours long and allows for skills instruction. Whether you spend your time working on hitting, glove work, or speed and agility and core strength, we plan specifically for your team’s needs.
Our Home Run Option includes both skills and team building. This is a 3 hour session that includes any skills you want, as well as team building.
Take your team to the next level. Give your athletes an opportunity to not only improve their skills, but also their team morale. You will notice a huge difference if you can achieve this!