Two years ago, I led a team building outing for the Indiana Fever. The players had a great time bonding while competing with one another in ways that were very different to how they would normally interact on the court.
The activities created an opportunity for The Fever to further build their trust and cohesiveness as a team. They found the outing to be so impactful, that I was asked to come back and work with the Indiana Pacers.
While I felt honored and excitedly told my friends, one of them asked a worthwhile question. “That’s really cool, but why would a professional sports team want to do team building?”
Three Ways Coaches and Players Benefit from Team Building
- Develops Teamwork – Team building exercises allow team members who normally wouldn’t work together a chance to cooperate to achieve a specific goal resulting in a boost to their overall cohesiveness.
- Furthers physical and psychological interaction – Taking a team out of their normal setting and giving them the opportunity to communicate in different ways intensifies, their connection.
- Finds New Leaders – Sometimes natural leaders emerge when least expected. Team building exercises allow coaches to discover who takes the lead when challenged.
An article on SB Nation about team building states that “it’s impossible to gauge how much these team-bonding exercises translate to success on the field, but they are strategies employed by some of the NFL’s best coaches on some of the NFL’s best teams.”
Many coaches and players seem to agree. Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has said, “This is about culture. It’s about developing the bonding between your players and coaches and support staff. So, it’s very important.” While Steelers Defensive Back Will Allen stated, “You get to know people in a more in-depth way. You have pockets of guys who hang out together, now everybody hangs out together.”
It’s for these reasons that the Indiana Pacers recently looked towards team building. With the beginning of a new season, the Pacers wanted their players to develop a stronger sense of bonding, rapport, and camaraderie for both on and off the court.
According to an article in Forbes, having a strong bond among players builds trust within the team that means less conflict, and also encourages communication, which increases collaboration. And a team that knows how to collaborate knows how to win!
During a day spent fully engaged in a ‘Hunger Games’ themed event, not only did the players have fun playing together, but also they were wildly competitive! A primary objective of the development staff was to see which players would rise-up as natural leaders while participating in the activities.
The nature of the event pulled the team together in a fresh dynamic, allowing them to engage in new ways that fostered cohesiveness. It was evident by the amount of laughter, cheering and egging each other on that the players were forging relationships
The best learning comes from hands on experience and activities, and in the same way, the best way to spot a leader is to see how they approach other activities… even team building Hunger Games!