Every coach in the world desires a great team culture. Team building is one of the most important aspects of coaching. As coaches we know there’s only so many things we can do. There’s only so much of us to go around. As much as we’d like, we can’t be all places, reaching every athlete, at one time.
One of the best ways to build our teams and programs is to duplicate ourselves. Teams develop great culture through their players. If we can get our players to ask themselves and answer the following questions, we begin to build a great team.
The first question players should ask themselves is what’s my strength? It’s imperative for players to understand how they can best contribute to the team. When players have confidence in their skill and ability they better serve their teammates. It’s more important to understand and own one’s strengths rather than focusing solely on improving weaknesses. Teams become stronger when players focus on using their strengths for the good of the team over personal accolades.
Secondly, players must ask how can I help my coach? It’s our job as coaches to help our players understand the mission, vision, and philosophy of the program. Once they understand, players can turn into program ambassadors. Coaches need help reinforcing the norms and expectations; especially to the newest team members. You know a team is on its way to greatness when players are asking coaches how to best serve the team and its’ goals.
Thirdly, players need to ask where does my team need help most? It’s one thing for the coaching staff to understand where the team is weak, but it’s another thing when the players understand. Great teams are comprised of players who know where they are weak and what needs work. Individually, players must identify how their talents can help in the areas the team is struggling in. Oftentimes teams simply need time together away from practice and games to bond. Having players who take it upon themselves to organize team bonding events is essential for building a strong team.
Fourth, players should ask who can help me grow? Players know who they look up to and should seek out the counsel of those individuals. Having someone who can help them improve their skill level, knowledge of the game, and leadership ability is of tremendous value. If not assigned by their coach, players should seek out a team “buddy/partner”. This individual will be able to hold them accountable to their goals. When individuals get better, the team gets better. The best way to build a strong team is consistently improve the links in the chain.
Lastly, players should ask themselves who can I mentor? It’s one thing to know what to do, but it’s another to pass that wisdom along. Great teams are consistent. They don’t just have one or two good years. They are able to do this because their culture of greatness is passed down. If we can help our players mentor each other, we have significantly duplicated ourselves and improved our culture. Great teams are built when players seek to leave a legacy behind.
Many times the idea of team building is only thought of in ways of goofy games or fun activities. While they can play a part, they are not the most important aspect. The most important element in building a strong team is the team members themselves. They have to want to be great, and as coaches it’s our job to give them the blueprint. By getting our players to ask and reflect upon these five questions, we’ve laid the foundation for building a great team.