Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being a team can be more than playing Ultimate

One of the great things about team sports is the bond that can form between you and your teammates. My fondest memories of Ultimate stem from my senior year of high school at Hampton. That 2005 edition of the Hampton Ultimate Club was as tight nit and close a group as I've ever been apart of. Everybody got along, there was very little in-fighting and people worked hard for one another. As a captain, you can't ask for a better situation.

I really believe that cohesion among teammates plays an important role in the success of a team. Sure, you need talent and you need athletes and you need to outwork the opposition. But intangibles can really play an important factor in the how well your team does on and off the field.

How can you foster this type of bond among your teammates? Not everybody who wants to play Ultimate is going to be friends with each other. If you're going to spend as much time as you will together, you might as well try to keep it as conflict-free as possible.

An important step starts at the top, with the captains and veterans of the team. Making an effort to make all players feel like they are included and setting the precedent that everyone is all a part of the team is vital. If the captains don't look to involve everyone, nobody else is going to.

Next, consider developing team rituals that include everyone. After a game, we headed to Wendy's. Everyone, teammates, fans, family, the other team, whoever, were welcome to come. To the best of my knowledge, this tradition continues today for the team. We also did team warmups, a regular pre-game cheer, and a post-game game of Monster Truck Rally. These types of small but expected rituals bring a group of people closer together. Go do something social with everyone on the team.

Setting the expectations at the top and making sure everyone feels included is vital. Conflicts will arise and will have to be taken care of, but a team that gets along will practice better and work harder for one another. Fostering that type of environment could take your team over the top and snag yourself a PHUL championship. At the very least, you'll have a great group of friends and fantastic memories to take with you forever.

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