No matter the sport, all teams will have their ups and downs. Seasons are long, and it’s extremely difficult to consistently remain on top of their game. Consistency is what makes championship-level teams, and is an underrated component of the most successful teams.
Although all teams are different, there are several ways to work out of tough stretches. Parents know their children, coaches know their players, but sometimes it’s best to take a step back, and start from the ground up.
1. Remind your players why they play
All athletes play for one reason or another. If your team is struggling to put in their best performances and stay engaged, don’t be afraid to ask your players why they started playing to begin with. While most players would say they play the game because they love it and truly enjoy playing, each individual will be motivated in different ways. It’s important for them to remember why they’re out there and put their struggles into perspective. Even professional level teams implement exercises in training that promote fun!
2. Get back to the basics
When the team is struggling to perform at their best, or get positive results, it’s essential that you remind your players to focus on the fundamental skills. This will allow them to rebuild from the ground up. Start with bite sized goals, and then build up from there. Once your team makes several consistent fundamental plays, encourage them to show their individual flare and skill and flourish as a group.
3. Celebrate small victories
It can be difficult to remain positive when results and plays aren’t going your way. Even the most successful teams start somewhere. By celebrating the smallest of victories and plays on the field, confidence will rise and players will begin to feed off of each other’s energy. Celebrate a successful pass, a stolen base, or a defensive stop and watch your team’s belief turn into positive results.
Many coaches use Trace to celebrate these successes, as they can quickly view and share specific moments of the game to showcase exceptional moments the team can build from. Using video is a great way to give players a different perspective from what they see on the field, and who doesn’t love watching their top moments from every game?
4. Encourage teamwork
Team chemistry is arguably one of the most crucial components of a successful team. When times are tough, it’s easy to worry about oneself, rather than the good of the team. Try to refocus your players on the individual success that comes first with team success. If the team’s firing on all cylinders, each individual will likely thrive as well.
Chemistry and positive reinforcement is also important off the field. Try planning a few events for your team to get to know one another better on an individual basis. Teams that know each other well are far more likely to encourage one another when the going gets tough. If you’re looking for a few ways to do so, here are a few ways to build community within your team.
5. Be approachable
Remember that as a coach, players will look to you for the knowledge and experience to get themselves and the team out of a slump. This is where the strength of player-coach relationships are key, and it’s important that you’re welcoming to all players on the team. With experience comes wisdom, and is ultimately one of the reasons coaches are necessary to leading a team.