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Building a culture of team bonding takes time and intentionality. Because time is limited, doing some fun fastpitch softball team building activities or drills often gets pushed onto the “back-burner.”But it's incredibly important.
But how in the heck do you find time to do team building activities on top of everything else?
As coaches it can be a challenge to maintain a healthy balance between family, work, and coaching. And while coaching is important, our families are more important.
The good new is that you don’t need to kill yourself to fit it in. You just need to have a plan and some ideas! Today we have a few easy ideas to get you started!
Below are four easy ways to incorporate team building drills and activities into your fastpitch softball program each season.
The "I Got Your Back" drill is one of my favorites because it can be done so quickly. And it will have a lasting impact on certain players.
It can even have a lasting impact on you as a coach!
At least it has on me.
In fact, I still have some of the notes, cards, and papers from players from years ago! You do not hear “thank-you” nearly enough as a coach. But it does not mean you aren’t appreciated.
But you ARE appreciated by MANY. Even if they don’t say it. And sometimes these activities allow players the chance to express appreciation without having to worry about being seen as a “kiss-up.”
But of course that is not why we do team building activities for softball. It just happens to be a natural part of the process when coaches participate.
I should qualify that I don’t always participate. Just some of the time. It’s about creating a positive culture on your team, so it’s really what you feel is most appropriate.
This is a simple way for your softball team to have some fun with each other at the start of our season. Each year, typically in the second week of the season, we take a night and go to the bowling alley.
This is a fun, easy, low-key, inexpensive way for the players to simply be around each other as a team outside of the practice/game environment.
One aspect of doing this event effectively is to divide the teams up into specific groups so that the players are not segregating into groups with their best friends. The biggest value of this annual event in our program is that it’s a low-key way for our players to interact with each other and get to know one another off the field.
One additional thing we added to this event is having the players fill out a “get to know you” survey. Some of the questions were things like “your favorite food,” “your dream job,” etc.
Other questions were based on their preferences of how people treat them when things are going poorly on the field. For example, “leave me alone,” “give me lots of encouragement,” “be tough on me.” This is a great way for players and coaches to learn a little bit about the “inner-workings” of their teammates.
The extra "add-on" activities are also a way to promote some bonding with the players on your softball team. Getting to know one another is a necessary step for this to happen.
I highly recommend doing some type of service work each year. There are many organizations out there that love the help. Personally, I love to find something where we are working with younger kids.
The players love it and it is typically appreciated by the organization. Our teams have often worked for different ministries in various areas of Orlando. We typically teach softball or baseball to lower school students and then we help them with their homework.
These are great reminders for our players that life is not all about them, and it encourages a service mindset.
It also can help give the workers within the organization a break from their daily routine. Oh yeah, and it's an activity with the added benefit of naturally bonding your softball team.
One thing I would encourage is to always ask the organization how you can best serve them (as opposed to telling them what you will do “for” them). They are the experts in their organizations and will know how your team can best be of assistance.
A natural part of coaching is talking to the team. Sometimes we spend a few minutes prior to games, while other times we carve some time before practice.
Sometimes one of the coaches will spend a few minutes reading and discussing something of importance. Other times, we will allow a player to take the lead.
There are many great books on aspects of character building that a team could go through during the season. It can be as simple as 10 minutes at a time.
If you happen to work in a faith-based organization, then doing something like team devotions is a natural part of your coaching “process” and feeds into this. If you do not, then you could use something like ProActive Coaching which focuses on character building.
This time could simply be a time to remind the players of things that are important, such as playing for each other, showing respect, persevering through adversity, loving each other well, etc. Or you could do an actual team building activity.
There are many other great ways to build team chemistry. These are just four simple things that a team can do, and hopefully gives you some “food for thought.”
While big events such as ropes courses are good, we do not need to always do major things to bring our players together.
If we incorporate small team building activities throughout the season we can begin to create a culture of unity and togetherness!
(By Tim Covey, Founder of Covey Sports)
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