For some teams, a sense of community comes naturally. But in other cases, it takes leadership to build or strengthen that feeling of being part of something greater than oneself and to make sure every single player is more involved and invested. Whether you’re looking to build team chemistry on the field to improve performance or trying to strengthen relationships among players, here are a few ways to build a stronger sense of community within a team.
Spend More Time Together
Teams can’t compete with if they are made of individuals working towards different goals. The strongest teams have players who are in synch on one goal and who work together, lifting each other up, to achieve that shared goal. Building bonds and strengthening team community helps players become more invested in helping their teammates. And the simple act of spending time with teammates off the field is a fantastic way to do that.
Team bonding is a critical part of becoming a group who works well as a whole and makes the whole experience more fun for everyone. In order to build community within your team or club, it’s important that you do things outside of your weekly team activities to promote an even stronger bond.
Sharing meals together, volunteering in your community, fundraising for a team purchase, or even team-building games off the field such as an arcade, bowling, or team hike are a few ways to bring players together off the field.
Celebrate Successes and Reflect on Failures
Remember to celebrate your successes and reflect on failures. No matter the result of a game or feeling after a tough practice, it’s crucial that you always remember that soccer is a team game. Knowing that you have your teammate’s back and it’s reciprocated ensures that the team comes before the individual performance.
While it’s easy to celebrate when you win, it’s equally important that you come together as a team and determine what went wrong when you lose. It can be tempting to simply walk away from the field after a tough loss, but a more productive way to handle loss is to identify the reason so you can work to move that roadblock in your next game. Victories will be that much sweeter, and defeats will have some meaning and value.
Keep Open Communication
In order to maintain a level of trust that is crucial to any successful team, you must always be willing to be honest with positive feedback and constructive criticism. Young players especially take comments and actions to heart, so by providing feedback that players know is in their best interest, a coach or team leader is building a solid relationship. This goes for both positive comments and tough love advice.
As these players begin to trust your knowledge of the game and begin to understand the components of what you’re trying to teach, they will respect you and gain a deeper appreciation for the game.
Nurture Team Leaders
Not only is it critical for the coach to lead the team and consistently be the driving force behind the team, but it’s also necessary for the players to lead as well. There are certainly players who are more vocal than others, and these will often become the de facto leaders. It is important to help guide them to be effective leaders of their peers.
A well known leadership reference are The 3 C’s, which lays out how each individual can best contribute to the team through being caring, courageous and consistent. Whether you’re a vocal leader, one who leads by example on the field in silence, or a number of other skills, each player has a role on the team. It’s essential that players and coaches know who they can count on to pick the team up when needed. By giving each player the accountability to be a player everyone can rely on, a team can truly thrive.
Here is a quick video of USWNT legend, Becky Sauerbrunn on what it means to her experience and what it means to be a leader.
Set Team goals
Setting team goals sets a standard for what you’re looking to accomplish as a team. Giving each individual a greater goal to work towards, such as winning a tournament, working successfully through complex passing patterns, or even something as simple as ensuring players show up to practice on time, all streamline a process to achieve something greater.
Allow the team to come together and create ideas on their own, because once individuals have something they’re motivated to work towards, the smaller targets begin to add up for the good of the group. Here’s a quick guide for additional ideas and how to set your team up for the most success.