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A new school year brings a new season of sports and for many children, that can mean joining a new team. Old friends might get together again or make new ones. In either case, team bonding allows kids to break down walls and learn to trust each other. And when it comes to sports, trust means better play on the field.
So how do players bond and build trusting relationships? Here are a few ways to foster strong interpersonal connections:
Encourage an open attitude
Help your youth athlete understand that suggestions from teammates can be beneficial. If your child has a know-it-all attitude, it will be hard for them to help create a strong team spirit.
Plan group meals
If the coach does not schedule team meals, connect with other parents and plan some of your own! It’s well known that breaking bread can foster bonding, and athletes can enjoy this time together off the field.
Do service projects
Nothing builds team unity like working on a project together. Whether it’s a fundraiser for the team or for the community, find ways kids can connect through helping others.
My kids were involved in numerous car washes over the years and always walked away knowing their teammates better.
Whether your team is traveling across town or across the state, travel is a great time for athletes to bond. Whether you all fit into a van or have to take several cars, players should stick together. There is no doubt they will learn more about each other while sitting side-by-side in the back seat.
It could be a song before each game or a chant out of each huddle. Whatever it is, encourage your youth athletes to start something that everyone can enjoy. It’s a great way for them to build unity.
Provide team-building activities
Practice should not always focus solely on fitness and skills. Coaches: Take a few minutes during practice once each week or two, and do a team-building activity with your players.
Support everyone on the team
Adults must take the lead on this, and encourage youth athletes to completely support one another. It will help create more positive energy among players, and lead to a winning team. At the very least, it will make the experience much more rewarding and enjoyable for all involved.
Janis Meredith is a family coach who wants to help all parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.