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How to Maximize Team Culture and Chemistry

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When considering a championship sports team, what factor elevates the team above all the rest? Sure, the other teams may have talented individuals, but team chemistry can take teams further than talent could. When was the last time you wanted to do your best for someone you don’t like or trust? Chances are you wouldn’t be very motivated to do so. This is reflected when members of the team don’t get along. They are likely to play for their own glory instead of for others. When good team dynamics and chemistry are present, a more enjoyable and successful experience is almost guaranteed. 

Unify with Team Goals

Different sports have different team dynamics. For example, basketball is interactive. You cannot win without five individuals playing together. Sports like bowling, tennis and swimming are sometimes coactive. This means that individuals perform on their own and can be successful both individually and within the team. No matter which type of team you are playing with or coaching, it is extremely important to create an environment with a unified goal. This means that the team will share the same standards, expectations and focus in order to achieve this goal.

Teams that do not share a unified goal will experience confusion and disorganization because individuals will be on different pages. A good way to get the team on the same page is to have the team create a mission statement, as well as team standards. The mission statement and standards clarify the expectations of the team so it is clear for everyone. The team should also set long-term goals and short-term goals in order to keep the team motivated and working together. 

Here Head Coach of North Carolina University Mack Brown discusses the importance of setting team goals.

Source: Program Building, Culture and Leadership course

Clarify Roles

In order to have a cohesive team with good dynamics, individuals on the team should understand their role. Role conflict exists when an individual does not have a role or performs too many roles. How can you contribute or help if you don’t know what your job is? Those who “wear too many hats” can feel overwhelmed; they can’t fulfill their duty because their focus is always in many different places. Furthermore, someone may understand their role but they may not always accept it.

For example, a backup quarterback may not understand his role if other teammates are telling him he should be starting. This confusion can cause a player to challenge their role. This ultimately causes a problem between the quarterback, the backup and other teammates. It is important for individuals to accept the role that has been given to them because both role clarity and role acceptance are critical for team success. 

Coaches and players should ensure that each member’s contribution is valued by recognizing their role. Furthermore, coaches should always assign formal roles within the team, for example, captains. Informal roles such as emotional leader or mediator are not always assigned but they should be acknowledged. Most teams are constantly changing because players improve, graduate, quit or get injured; therefore, roles should be re-enforced frequently. 

Emphasize Good Leadership

Any group, organization or team will agree that good leadership is absolutely necessary when it comes to good group dynamics. A good leader is needed in order to assure the unified goal is met. Furthermore, they need to set a good example by demonstrating how the standards and expectations are met. If the leader or leaders don’t work hard, other teammates may follow their example because it is seen as acceptable.

If the leaders work hard, then it becomes the norm of the team. Good leaders should also be able to communicate properly with the other players in order to enhance satisfaction and honesty within the team. Therefore, coaches should choose a captain that is both a hard worker and a good communicator so the content is better received. 

Here Mack Brown talks about the different ways to lead any group.

Source: Program Building, Culture and Leadership course

Create a Good Team Climate

Even though players spend plenty of time together at practice and competitions, they should also do activities outside of sport. Bonding between teammates outside their normal roles can facilitate closeness and group interaction among themselves. Better relationships will be formed between teammates because this bonding provides an opportunity to grow trust, communication and understanding. A great way to put this into practice would be to have a team dinner once a week. 

Another way to create a better team climate is to always be fair. If starters and non-starters are treated differently, they will perceive each other differently. This perceived difference creates a divide, which creates conflict within the team. Coaches and teammates who treat each other unfairly create a hostile environment full of jealousy and resentment. When everyone is treated fairly, all members feel as a part of the team and there are fewer hard feelings. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, team cohesion and chemistry are extremely important in order to be a successful team. When teams have a unified goal, it is easier to work together and stay motivated. Teams should also establish specific standards and expectations to establish team pride. Establishing roles and leadership is also necessary in order to establish good dynamics. Lastly, team bonding and fairness promote closeness, allowing players to have their emotional needs met and create positive dynamics and chemistry throughout the team.

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