As a coach, your job is complicated. You need to take a number of very different skill sets and personalities and mold them together into a unit, which can work well in a very coordinated way. At the most basic level, a team which works well together has more of a chance of winning a game than a team, which has problems functioning in a cohesive fashion. That being said, you may wonder what some methods of team building are and how to use them with your own group of players in order to prepare them for the challenges ahead.
In my opinion, one of the biggest problems facing any team is change. It doesn’t matter what level you are playing at because there will always be changes to the make-up of your team, from year to year or season to season. You will find that players who have been together through several years have a better chance of working well together because they have played together before got to know eachother. Introducing new players into an existing team dynamic can be a problem since it can upset an already established order.
However, because players can change from year to year, it is important to learn how to incorporate new players into the team. Here are a few tips that you can use to make this process a little easier.
The first is to establish a common goal. It can be good to have long term goals as well as more immediate benchmarks, that you would like to achieve. By drawing existing and new players in and getting them working towards this goal it can be easier to build a team mentality.
One of the best ways to achieve a team mentality and increase the amount of team work on and off the court is to show that you value the contribution that all team members make to the success of your basketball team. By showing that you appreciate both offensive and defensive positions and that you realize how important it is for all team members to get the recognition you deserve, you will be able to build a team mentality where all players value the skills and strengths that each member possesses.
By using team building exercises you will get all of the members thinking about how to achieve a common goal. While you still need to remain in control of the team and show that you are the leader, by allowing each player to have a say in some decision making processes, you get the players expressing their views and this can help build a team mentality.
Obviously practice can and will play a huge role in establishing a team mentality. You need to break your players up into small groups and run skirmishes and scenarios so that you can get them used to working together in a number of different individual combinations. By giving your players a chance to learn each others’ playing styles, you can teach them how to work together much more quickly than larger scale drills and exercises can.
Over time, your team will slowly come together and form a much more coordinated unit, and after a few practices, you should begin to see a change in the way team members interact. As you get to know your players you will be able to see and work through any interpersonal conflicts that arise. Then, and only then, will you be able to mesh your team into a working unit and begin guiding them to a successful basketball season.
Picture credit: Seattle Municipal Archives • Creative Commons Attribution