Reversely, what makes great team chemistry? These are both interesting questions and ones that many managers and coaches wrestle with. I can think of some very successful teams that I have played on that did not necessarily have great team chemistry present in the midst of the struggles of the season. However, after winning the title, we “reinvented” what it was truly like on the way to the title. Can any of you relate to this?
After reflecting on that experience, what I think might happen is (for example) in spite of player x’s weird habit or his/her propensity to foul at the wrong time, he/she really brought grit and toughness to the middle of the field. Post-championship, what we are saying about our teammates, and our culture, is everybody brought something great to the team and that’s why we won. Therefore, in spite of the inevitable individual or team weaknesses, we learned to work around those obstacles and complement one another on the way to the title. Simply put, when everyone knows their role and is comfortable in that role, big things can happen.
So the question is; do wins create team chemistry? Or can team chemistry be developed and fostered to pave the way for wins?
It is likely both. In my experience, a culture of good chemistry starts with communication and connection. Both of which are a direct result of a healthy culture which in turn can give a team the opportunity to appreciate each other and win more often than not. Often, poor communication leads to stress and doubt about roles and expectations within the team, which then brings unwanted competition and conflict. Although winning is still possible, it becomes much harder to consistently improve as a team.
So, how can coaches build an environment that will foster team chemistry?
It starts with a routine of consistent communication delivered at the same time, to the same place (e.g. email, paper, app on phone, whiteboard) every single day. Making this communication easier and more applicable to include things like scheduling, academic requirements, training room treatments, motivational material, practice plans, special teams playbook, video help, nutritional hints, and beyond, can and will give your players the proper tools to succeed. If players know what is expected by the coaches, they will be much freer to connect amongst themselves and see the positives in their fellow teammates. It seems obvious, but successful communication and connection is very hard in this day and age. Players have huge demands with their time and schedules and are constantly distracted by texts, social media and phone calls.
My experience is this; when you reduce uncertainty and stress amongst the players, it’s easier to develop a winning culture. And who doesn’t want to win?