4 Team Building activities that can help shift a culture and bring teammates together while raising the performance of the team and individuals.
Teams that are struggling with negativity experience poor self talk, blaming and excuses, poor leadership, lack of drive and poor performance on the field. Negativity can take even the best player out of his or her game, and it’s like a poison that can creep through entire teams once it starts.
The great news is that as coaches, we have the tools to fill our team with confidence, dependence on each other, and encouraging talk that brings about a necessary shift in culture or reinforces an already positive one.
Positive teams turn “this is too hard, I can’t do it” to “this is so challenging, I can’t wait to get this skill down!” On game days, instead of “this team is clobbering us, I give up,” it becomes “Lets show them everything we have and see just how much we can rise together to meet this challenge.” Teams that feel united, secure and like their teammates and coaches have their backs, play better, have more fun and look forward to coming back, and that’s a win for everyone!
Here are some team building activities to try with your teams!
- Fill the Cup: (Time: about 15-20 minutes)
Materials- Fun Dollar Store large Cups, a pen for each player, A sheet of names of everyone on the team for each player, lots of scissors, permanent marker (to label the cups)
Prep: Label each cup with names so that each player has one. Put those out in a line on a table in the room. Print out a sheet of paper for each player that has names of the players on the team and have a line or two of room after each name to write and some space for cutting in between the names. If you have a large team you can choose to give each player 5 to 10 names each instead of all of the names. Each player should have their own name on their list as well. (positive self talk is hard!)
Have the players write something they really admire or something that they think each player brings to the team for every person on their list(including themselves!) Leaving it anonymous, they cut the strips out for each person and go put the strips in the coordinating person’s cup.
At the end of the activity, stack the cups to keep the strips inside and hand them out at the end of practice, or the night before a big game so they can take their cups home and read all the great positive feedback
- The Angel Pin (Time: about 5 minutes at the end of practice)
Materials: A lapel pin of an angel, SportsHerWay used to carry lacrosse angel pins which is what I use, but get creative, it could be any clip on type of token or even a key chain or lanyard) (get extras, someone always loses it and they feel awful)
Prep: Explain the significance of the token: this angel pin is a symbol of thanks to the players on this team that go above and beyond to look out for others, and to make other teammates better.
“At the end of practice on ___ day of the week whoever has the angel pin from the previous week will select the next worthy recipient.”
On the first occasion the coach can pick the recipient and explain why they have been chosen so they see how it’s done. Don’t forget to follow through and make time at the end of a practice every week to rotate the token throughout the season. If you have a large team you can have more than one token going around each week to give everyone the opportunity to try to earn it.
- The Rando Challenge: (Time: varies)
This one is a pretty fun, it’s a challenge to each of your players to do a random act of kindness for another person on the team, and they can’t get caught. Examples would be, an encouraging sign taped to their locker or windshield, having someone bring them an unsigned note saying nice things about them, leaving their favorite candy on their lax bag, etc.
Materials: Popsicle sticks (hence forth called Rando Stix) with a member of the team’s name on the back of each stick. (you can also throw in members of your admin, teachers, etc in order to get enough to fill all the sticks or you can repeat names)
Let each player draw 3 sticks out of a hat, they must keep the names on the sticks a secret. Give them a timeline (1 to 2 weeks max, not too long or they will procrastinate and forget to do it) where they are aiming to complete the task. Whenever they complete a successful anonymous act of kindness they bring you the coordinating Popsicle stick and they add their own name on the back of the stick.
At the end of the activity time when all the sticks are in, hand them out to the receivers of kindness and reveal who their secret person was (the stix should now have both of their names on it). Follow up with them throughout the week and remind them to get their randostix in before the deadline.
- Carabineers – The team linked together is stronger (Time: about 5-10 min)
Materials – Carabineers. You can get these cheap at the dollar store or you can order customized ones online, ether way is fun! Have enough for everyone on the team (plus extras for lost ones)
Give each player a link(carabineer) to clip-on to their backpack at the beginning of the season (I think its fun to not tell them why- makes it more dramatic at the first game, but tell them not to lose it and make sure they have this at the first game – bring extras, someone surely will forget)
Before the first game, pull the team in and have them bring their links. Circle them up and have them each link their link together to make a chain and talk about the significance of the team playing together and how each link is important. At the end of the game award the circle chain of links to the player that was a great teammate, they get to hold onto the chain until the next practice where everyone will once again take their carabineer and clip them back to their bags for the next game.
What have you tried for team building that was successful? How did it impact your team?