Why winning as a team is the only way to play sports

Why winning as a team is the only way to play sports
) Copyright 2005 Nick Gustavsson

Ok so you have been on a few softball or soccer teams where
there is one good kid who players much better then all the
rest. Most of the games he/she carries the team and it is
expected that he/she will raise to any occasion if needed.
How do you deal with this as a coach? What is the reason for
the team? To win right? That should be simple then. Play the
good kid all the time. Wrong and here is why.

We will take a not so big step from youth sports to military
training. What do they have in common? Just about
everything. Lets take a look at it more closely. They both have
individuals of different abilities when they start. They have
one goal. Many ways to achieve it. Rules to play (or fight as it
were) within. They have to hang together to be effective. And
they have to like one another.

There are two aspects to a team. First its physical aspect.
How fast it is. How strong and so on. Then we have the
mental aspect. How well it can think. React. Keep it together.
Deal with stress. You can train the first all you want but
without the second you will have no chance at all to succeed.
Why is this? Because we are only as good as we think we
are. Allow me to illustrate with a story about children and
flees. In South America children would put flees into a jar and
place the lid back on. Once the flee started to jump it would
bump into the lid of the jar. After only a few minutes the flee
would stop jumping as high and just jump low enough to
avoid the lid. At this point the flee was let out of the jar, but
would never again jump higher then the lit had allowed. We
are no different, we too react to limitations. We will not keep
running into a locked door or try to walk on water. We learn
very quickly from observation. it has long been thought that
the military will break you down so they can build you up to
be a robot that follows orders. That is a load of stuff for sure.
Nobody is broken down ever. A broken soldier is worth
nothing. A soldier who stops thinking he is better then the guy
next to him, is. When you should a group of people they can
do something they did not think they could, they bold through
the positive experience. Don’t get me wrong, they bond
through negative too, but that is for another article.

The power of positive. So let’s say we have to show some
year olds how to be a better soccer team. Would it be better to
tell them what they did wrong or to tell them what they did
right? Yeah, you got it. Stick with the positive here. So in order
to get them on the right track, break down the task at hand
and feed them a part at a time. In the example we are trying
to show them how to pass the ball more effectively. What is
involved in this? Well we have the ability to understand where
to shoot the ball in the first place. To the open stop or right to
the player. That would depend on some guide lines so take
the simpler, pass the player. Next we have the act of kicking
the ball straight and hard enough. Then we have the act of
receiving the ball without it bouncing off our foot and away
from us.

Don’t line up the group and ask them to pass one another.
Why? Because you will have some kids who will ave played
at home and can already do it and some that cannot. All you
do is divide the team into the “can” and “cannot” groups. Fear
that state, fear it with your life. Instead what you do is say, “We
are going to play a new game”. Make up some game that is
allowing the players to perform the action you want to
practice, but without the negative of “why do I have to, I
already know how to shoot”. This is not the time for
individuals, this is the time for team. Now have all the kids do
the game, make it simple enough so that they all can do it,
but at the same time hard enough so that it actually helps
them. Once you ave mastered this, move on to some other
exercise that build upon the first. Again, keeping a keep eye
out for making the whole team arrive at the goal together. All
or none. Must be together.

What you will have in the end of this is a team that thinks well
of each other. Where gifted player had respect for the not so
gifted player because they both can do what is required. The
team also needs to learn that they only get to the end by
arriving together. If you have any reservations about this, just
remember that if it is good enough for the special forces
around the world, it is good enough for you. They train as a
team, they live as a team and they win as a team.

Now go and build your team.

Nick Gustavsson writes about sports and coaching from the perspective of team and team building.

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