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With that said, let’s dive in. If you are one of those soccer coaches who think soccer is won only by mastering the technical skills of the game; think again?
In addition to their individual skills, it’s the player’s ability to work with their teams that leads to harmony and cooperation within the team. Although a lot of players show individual ability but only good team players can take the game to the next level.
So as a soccer coach, what you should look at is a well-formed soccer player, whose teamwork skills will fit into your training system from day one.
Practice with the team: Like any other skill, practice is essential in building player interaction. It is highly recommended that you devote one training session every day to team-oriented play.
It is estimated that generally 50 percent to 60 percent of the time the players spend with the ball involves practicing with a team. You can do the same with your players. Let your kids know where they should play a specific position on the field; make it a priority to interact with teammates, and develop an instinct for how each player reacts.
Participation is the key to developing teamwork: Make it a point that all players attend the practice sessions. This will allow them to build relationships with their teammates which are almost second nature, a kind of innate telepathy. They know where their teammates are going to be on the field and what they’re going to do with the ball.
Relationships like this can be built only through many hours of practice as a team.
Building teamwork off the field: Condition your players to learn to live with the good and bad about everyone in the team. They must always remember that once they step over the line on the field, they’re one. They’ve got to be one on the field and off the field as well.
Social activities have the potential to bond teams together so kids can understand each other’s personalities. For instance; arrange for players to take cultural excursions together, or a hiking trip, or something similar. It doesn’t necessarily have to be soccer-related.
Training like a professional: Soccer coaches must incorporate team building skills into their training plans in order to build winning teams. Trainers who get their teams to work together create outstanding possibilities as they enjoy the benefits of teamwork.
Great teams are not made accidently. Building successful teams takes a lot of work, patience, and sacrifice. It requires professional leadership that guides individual players and teams toward a shared vision or goal.
Team dynamics: Anyone who travels around the world and observes different people can readily notice that human beings spend a good amount of time doing things together in groups. So a team’s performance can be a reflection of the added individual talents of its individual players or a team’s performance can be a reflection of a sum that is greater than, or smaller than, the total of each of the individual performances. Team members need to have a balance of close proximity, distinctiveness, similarity, as well as team goals and rewards (individual and team goals).
Applying team building skills to stay on course: You must know the importance of teamwork and have the ability to turn things around by making sure that each player is commits to the same vision and values of the team.
Simply put, you need to establish a “buy-in” by requiring players to announce whether they are in or out.
When everyone commits to the same set of beliefs, a climate of trust develops and the players start to work together like never before.
Having said that, I’d like to ask a simple question; why is teamwork so important?
You must realize that before players will commit to and place the needs of the team before their own; they have to be convinced that their sacrifices will be worth it. And it is up to the coach to exercise team building skills that will create harmony and enable their team to achieve its long-term objectives.
A team building exercise can encourage a team player’s attitude while at the same time; it serves as a leadership development exercise. Like we’ve already discussed, team building requires hard work, persistence, and sacrifice and the coaches must spend sufficient time necessary to build their team.
Physical fitness scenario: Since fitness is important in soccer, physical fitness training is a great vehicle for developing teambuilding qualities amongst players.
Here is an example to develop leadership and teambuilding skills and then employ the benefits of teamwork.
Let’s say your team is going for a 4-mile run. Of course, there’ll be some members who will be faster than others and your goal is to increase each individual’s speed and strength. However, the primary motive is to improve the team’s collective performance.
Now, here lies the challenge. How would you maintain the interest of the top performers without discouraging the weaker runners?
One technique that you can use is to take the team on a 1-mile group warm-up run, then go to an already decided area for a 2-mile “release run,” and finish it up with a 1-mile group run back to the point where they started.
It’s the 2-mile “release run” that plays a critical role in accomplishing individual goals and part of the overall team building exercise.
Learning the Importance of Teamwork: During the 2-mile out-and-back “release run,” individual players push each other to run as fast as they can during the designated time. Some players may run more than two miles while others less than that, but the key here is to keep pushing each other to be better and encourage all along the way.
At the end of the designated time, each player returns to the point where he/ she started, but if one player returned before the others, he/ she won’t stop running. Instead, this player will circle back until he/she finds the last person on the return leg and matches pace with that individual, encouraging him along.
Here, cheering and supporting the teammates was not an option given to the players; it was required and expected of these young aspiring leaders. The faster runners helped those who were slower and everyone knew the group would finish together, just as they started, highlighting the importance of teamwork.
Every player knew the rules, that is, the values you were attempting to instill in your future leaders.
Leadership and Teamwork Go Together: A good part of this leadership development exercise described above was to have all players encourage their peers to do their best instead of allowing players to find reasons to get discouraged, slow down, or to stop.
Every team building exercise serves as a leadership development exercise, and vice-versa. It’s just that the player’s roles may have to be reworked depending upon their areas of strength.
In the example given above, these kids or future leaders learned to be team players as well as team leaders.
Consider Exercises for Your Team : Review the opportunities available for your players to exploit and utilize the benefits of teamwork.
Every player has his own share of strengths and weaknesses. When they get the opportunity to contribute, they make full use of their strengths to help others and everyone benefits as a result.
It’s a good idea to implement programs where different players get the opportunity to lead in those areas where they are strong.
It will develop leaders, improve teamwork, perk up the morale, and increase the overall performance of your soccer team.
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Yours in soccer,
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