Team Chemistry Written By Troy Olson
As a coach we talk about team chemistry all the time, but the truth be told team chemistry starts at the top with the coaching staff. If you or anyone on your staff is negative or demeaning to the athletes there is no way that you can have good team chemistry. You can have the greatest athletes, but you will never reach your potential with out good team chemistry.
So what makes good team chemistry? How do we achieve this feat? Can this be accomplished? These are just a few questions we are faced with as coaches, but this is probably the most important aspect of setting up your team. If the coaching staff and athletes cant find common ground to work with then we will never achieve our team goals. Creating team chemistry really isn't that hard, I think back to a few coaches I have had over the years that I didn't get along with or didn't care for and I do the opposite of what they did… I think as we age its easy to forget about what it is like as a 15 or 16 year old athlete trying to get playing time, I always to put myself in their shoes. Now I still think you can always learn something from everybody, the coaches I didn't gel with I still learned things from, like how not to treat people.
Its funny because when I look back in my life, there is only two coaches that I really thought fit this mold. Guess what neither of them had successful teams over the years… I remember thinking when I get my chance to coach I am going to do things different than this, and I do… We never had team functions with these coaches, and the only way the teams ever got it together, was by setting up our own team meals and bonding experiences.
So now days I try to consider what the athlete needs or is looking for with this team, how can I help them. The big one I think is never talk down to your athletes, this sounds like common sense but nobody wants this kind of treatment. If you respect these young adults they can achieve just about anything in life or on the field. These athletes want to be just as successful as the coach wants to be. Its really amazing to me the more I am involved with coaching the more I see that if you stick up for these athletes and treat them with respect they will give so much more on the field.
What do we do to get this team chemistry? Somethings we have done is one night cut practice short and go out to eat, the kids love this, heck they are 16 years old and can eat every 15 minutes if you let them. Once a year we usually order pizza to the field for after the game, we invite the other team to join us. Bring a cooler of water or Gatorade for the athletes, I have even brought ice cream and cones and had this after practice, rice crispy treats or brownies are a big hit all the time too.
I am not going to lie, from time to time we will have problems or heated discussions. These are a good thing, this allows people to vent and move on… the worst thing is to keep this bottled up. So as you can see there are many ways to achieve team chemistry, and yes it is possible. The important thing to remember is it starts with you the coach, your team will be a reflection of you and how you treat your team. So just keep this in mind the next time you have something to say to the team…. Good luck
Troy Olson has been playing mens fastpitch since he was 11. He grew up in a family of fastpitch players. His dad had 7 brothers and a cousin that made up their team in the 70's and 80's. This is his 30th year of playing this wonderful game. He helps coach a 16u team and is a member of their softball board. He has played in three National Tournaments over the years. His team the Siren Steel had his Dad playing 3rd, his cousin played SS, his brother played 2nd, his uncle pitched, and a couple cousins played outfield, and Troy played 1st. It was an awesome experience getting to play with his Dad.
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