Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Team Support Groups

If I were a coach and had to choose between having a team with excellent talent and very little team chemistry, or a team with a huge amount of team chemistry and only moderate talent, I’ll take the latter.

When it comes to being successful, team chemistry wins out every time. And how do you build good team chemistry?  By transforming your team into a support group.  But let’s be clear. I’m not referring to “team meetings” – where not much generally happens, but rather creating an environment that is closed off from the public where players are encouraged to air their grievances, not only with each other but also with the coaching staff, without being punished. An environment where players are able to discuss whats going on in their personal lives; the problems they may be having with members of the opposite sex;  financial problems; parental problems at home. All of these affect performance, and if not addressed, will show up during competition as mental errors because there will be a lack of focusing.

Some of the topics that should be discussed in team support group sessions include dealing with misdirected anger, what we see in others is what we’re carrying around within ourselves, the myth of the team, expectations and self-fulfilling prophecies, the power of beliefs, and goals and intentions, just to name a few. And after players unload their personal problems and issues with their teammates, they will not only be a closer knit group, but they will then be more focused and ready for visualization, which I recommend be done to special music on video tape. I call them “Power Videos.”

So if you’re a coach, next time, don’t just have a team meeting; have a support group session. You’ll be amazed at the results.

A good example might be an NCAA Division I mens basketball team. Let’s assume their head coach is having marital problems at home and is taking it out on his team. He’s short-tempered and treats his team badly. He’s not open to suggestions and has created a negative team environment. Team members would like to tell him how they feel but fear they might be benched or worse yet, cut from the team and lose their scholarships. And it is this “withholding” that affects their performance. “Withholding” is a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem, creating psychological baggage that negatively affects their performance. That’s why I’m a strong advocate of team support groups, allowing team members to meet without any coaches present. As the team discusses their feelings and emotions in a protected team environment, they begin to feel better about themselves and their performance levels will increase. And the results of these meetings will show up in the team’s won/lost column. Athletic Directors who are responsible for selecting head coaches generally are hesitant to criticize them (since they were responsible for hiring them in the first place) and often stand by and wont take action unless pressured to do so by fan and media criticism.


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