24 Feb Building team chemistry
Developing team chemistry is a big challenge for every coach. I have found as a player and coach that good chemistry and morale revolves around playing time. The more someone is playing, the better their attitude is.
Here are a few ideas on building great team chemistry:
- Keep as few players as possible on the team. Ideally 10 players is the most you can keep happy. I have seen teams with 13 to 15 guys, and wonder how a coach can keep them engaged and upbeat. A middle school game can sometimes only have 6-minute quarters. It is difficult to give 10 guys quality playing time in a game when you are playing to win.
- Don’t fall for the player’s line, “I just want to make the team.” That desire quickly changes once games start and he or she does not get to play.
- Discuss playing time expectations. Before tryouts, you should explain you will attempt to get everyone in the game, but there is no guarantee of playing time. (Rec league coaches, keep in mind that your league may have a minimum playing time rule.)
- If you have more than 10 players, I would suggest you find a way in the first half to play your last five as a group. At UNC, it was called the Blue Team. Defensively, I would have them create as much pressure and havoc as possible. Offensively, a passing game/motion offense is best suited for this group. Make the opponents spend their time on defense for the 2 to 3 minutes these guys are in the game.
- Keep a separate score for your reserve group. At half time, especially if they held their own or increased the lead, share with everyone the results. Help this group develop a sense of pride with their limited role.
- Let your players set some rules. The best rules for them to set are the ones you don’t really care about!
- Don’t allow players to criticize or coach their teammates. Only coaches should be allowed to have that role.
- Make sure you have captains and give them real leadership roles. You should expect them to lead by example. I like the players to select season captains, and as a coach I pick one or two game captains. It is a way to reward great effort and attitude in practice.
- Make sure practice includes some fun stuff. It doesn’t have to happen every practice, but the occasional surprise is a great way to keep morale up.
- The most important element for building good chemistry is consistency in coaching. Do what you say, keep your word, stick to your rules. Players will pay more attention to what you do than what you say!