Team chemistry can make or break a team regardless of the level of play. If you and your teammates can’t work well together on or off the field, your team’s season will be unpleasant, regardless of wins and losses. It’s urgent that from the beginning of the season till the end, you and your teammates are on the same page of what you want to accomplish. Here are a few principles to really focus on to create a positive team culture and chemistry.
Get on the same page as your team. Set up a time to have a goals meeting with the team and leadership. Talk about what you want to achieve together as a team and for yourself as a player. Create an open dialogue between players and coaches that the team can revisit at different points of the season. Writing down these goals is a great way to hold yourself accountable while encouraging you to work even harder. Make sure that these are realistic and tangible goals! I have had these pre-season meetings each year with the DC Breeze, and just last week at American University, our college team listed out their goals. Pre-season goals meetings can be vital to see if you are playing with the right team. If the majority of players want to ‘win nationals and train 5 days a week’ and you just want a low commitment social outlet you might want to look for another team! That is why having the meeting early in the season is important.
A lot of camaraderie can be built from working out and training together. No one really wants to run those 10 full field sprints at the end of practice, but you do it anyways because your teammates are sprinting right beside you. Having the common goal of getting better as a player bonds you with your teammates. So really invest and focus in during these moments. Not only will your teammates push you, but seeing other people work hard is simply inspirational, and teammates working hard to get to a common goal is a huge part of the Ultimate frisbee lifestyle.
Understanding Your Teammates
While most of these foundations for a team come from an off-the-field perspective, this one is targeted at on-field chemistry. Knowing the skills, abilities, and preferences is one of the fastest ways to increase a team’s efficiency. Some strategies for success can include talking to teammates. “What is your favorite throw? Do you like to break the mark? Are you looking for switches on defense?” all go a long way. Observing and playing is another way, you should be cutting differently for your teams best power thrower than the team’s best break thrower. Every teammate is a different player, and the more you can figure out about each of their styles, the more the on-field chemistry increases.
Know When to Focus and Know When to Have Fun
Although practice time is very valuable especially during strategy and skill development, have fun with it. Remember why you love playing frisbee, it’s because it’s an awesome sport, with amazing people. If you’re not enjoying this experience then why are you doing it? Even if you are an ultra competitive team, try to mix up your practices to include fun games occasionally. Coaching college, I’ll often set aside 10 or 15 minutes for a competition, such as a goofy relay race or accuracy challenge. Players that attend team events because they want to, not because they have to, increase the atmosphere and energy for all which does wonders for team chemistry and culture.
Invest Time Off the Field
Building team chemistry doesn’t always need to happen on the field or around the track. Make sure your team is taking the time to bond with each other off the field. Whether that means going on a retreat, having bonding nights or going out together, it’ll help you get closer as a team. The more you know and trust your teammates, the more chemistry you’ll have on the field. Every year my club team, Washington DC Truck Stop goes away for a weekend, practicing Saturday and Sunday near the campground we spend in tents Saturday night. This is common practice among many teams, and excursions like this strengthen the bond between teammates.
At the end of the day, the majority of us play Ultimate for the team-side of things. The friendships, the tournament weekends, and other adventures that come about on and off the Ultimate field. With a positive team experience, good chemistry, and clear communication, no matter how the season turns out you can look back with pride on the season.
What do you think we left off the list that has helped your team find success?
Thanks for reading and good luck on the fields this year.
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