How to build “a team”

Every sport is a team sport. Whether you are a footballer playing alongside your team-mates, a sprinter working with your coach or even an aspiring amateur been assisted by your parents.

Every sport is a team sport. Whether you are a footballer playing alongside your team-mates, a sprinter working with your coach or even an aspiring amateur been assisted by your parents. There is always a team, even if you compete alone on the track. Having a supportive and knowledgeable team who you can share your victories, defeats and everything in between can be a huge source of confidence.

But not all teams get along. Even when you think everyone is working towards the same result, such as a winning a championship, there can be disharmony. Ultimately any problems within the locker-room, team bus, dug out or home can prevent us from performing our best.

So what make a good team? In my opinion there are three crucial things every team needs to be successful.

1 – Trust

There is a massive amount of comfort knowing that all of your team-mates or coaches are willing to everything they can to achieve a goal. Whether thats ensuring the team wins a match, helping you to win an individual title or allowing you to perform your best. To get to this point you must trust your team.

If you have a trusting team then athletes are willing to share their ideas, voice their opinions and be honest around their team mates. When you know everyone is doing their all to work towards one goal, that is when success arises.

How do you know if you trust in your team?

Answer this question …

Could you easily chat to your team-mates about weaknesses in your abilities?

If yes, then you have trust.

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2 – Conflict

Wait! Before you raise your eyebrows, let me define what I mean by conflict. We are not talking about locker room arguments and verbal disagreements. Every team needs productive conflict, where athletes are able to share their ideas about how to solve a problem.

This problem could be:

How do we start playing better?

How can I be a better team-mate?

How can we develop a closer team bond?

When a team has trust then this productive conflict is ok, because everyone understands they are trying to solve a problem and any disagreements are not taken personally. Productive conflict actually reduces the likelihood of gossiping and behind-the-back talking leads to improved team performance because the important issues are addressed rather than being buried and awkwardly not spoken about.

How do you know if you have productive conflict in your team?

Answer this question …

Would you feel happy to voicing your opinion if it had the risk of causing disagreement?

If yes, then you have productive conflict.

Lucy Martin Post Race
Jack Blake speaking to Lucy Martin after a spring classic in 2015

3 – Commitment

In terms of being a cohesive team commitment means having a clear plan about how to move forward with complete buy-in from all team members … even if they initially disagreed! Sometimes this might mean that your team-mates have to accept your plan. But sometimes you might have to get onboard with their strategy!

If a team doesn’t have commitment from everyone then some athletes will only give 30-60% effort and the team is unlikely to be successful.

How do you know if you have commitment in your team?

Answer this question …

Have you ever given a half effort in a match because you don’t agree with the team strategy?

If not, then you have commitment.

The most successful, cohesive and tight-knit teams are trusting, embrace conflict and are always ready to give 100% effort.

Does this sound like your team?
Our team sports psychologist is Jack Blake, and you can follow him here