If you’ve been in coaching for very long you know that the recipe for a great team and a successful season (however you measure that) involves more ingredients than a great offensive system and good athletes. Team chemistry plays a huge role as well.
We’ve all seen the Mighty Ducks, right? Great team chemistry + Emilio Estevez = Championship. Well, you may not have Emilio on your bench (not all dreams can come true), but you can build team chemistry.
Here’s one of the ways Randi Peterson from Coe College does it:
We finish each pre-season with a scavenger hunt. This year, we created a giant puzzle. Every piece of the puzzle had a clue attached to it leading to the next piece. Once all the pieces were found, the girls assembled it and read it’s message. It seems simple, but it is fun and hilarious and they have to do it together. And, for some reason, being silly bonds people to each other. It also makes good fodder for the highlight film too.
But, that’s not where we finish.
Every player and coach takes a piece of the puzzle home with them to keep during the year. Once a week, in order, the player brings in their piece of the puzzle along with a quote that means something to them. They get up in front of the team and share why that quote is significant. It challenges them to speak up, share a portion of themselves with the group, and the team gets to learn from each other.
That piece of the puzzle is then hung on the wall. Throughout the year, the puzzle is built piece by piece, player by player.
The team constantly builds towards a common goal of completing the puzzle. Each player is responsible to protect her piece and bring it on the appropriate day. And, each player gets a voice and a chance to add to the group. We slowly build, add to, and layer our team chemistry throughout the year to form a bigger picture requiring everyones contribution.
I don’t micromanage this process. I simply gave them the tools and the parameters and allow them to create the experience. And, as it turns out, they are quite good at creating experiences.
You can download Randi’s Scavenger Hunt Clues here, poetry included. You can use these as an example to build your own (since, the locations will vary) or simply use this concept to develop your own team building strategy.