Teamwork in Sports

Teamwork in Sports

“The strength of the team is each individual member… the strength of each member is the team!” (Phil Jackson, Coach, Chicago Bulls)

For a sports team to exist, you need a group of talented athletes, who work together to achieve a common goal of winning the match. There are 4 characteristics that individual members and the team as a whole needs in order to be successful. These can be described by the acronym:

T – Trust
E – Enthusiasm
A – Ambition
M – Motivation

Trust allows team members to depend on each other and good teamwork is based on trust. In team sports, the players need to depend on each other. When trust is lacking, the members play as individuals, weakening the whole team unit. Trust is built when team members get to know each other and their abilities and commitment. It grows as the team practice together until and developed team has an almost instinctive feel for one another. In an effective sports team there needs to be trust between team mates, trust between the coach and players and individual athletes need to trust themselves and their own abilities. If an athlete does not trust himself or his abilities it often expresses as fear of failure.

Enthusiasm is the glue that holds the team together. Most people participate in sport for the fun and enjoyment of the game. If the game is fun, you will be enthusiastic to train and play. The whole sports team needs to share an enthusiasm that is born out of the desire to be a member of the team. Each team member needs to have pride in the team as this creates social cohesion.
Ambition gives the team direction. The individual team members and the team as a whole needs to have ambition to achieve the goal of winning ethically. When a team is united in their pursuit of a common goal or ambition they have good task cohesion.

Every member needs to know the team’s goals and ambitions and be committed to achieving them. Individuals need ambition to attend training sessions and focus on improving their skills to the benefit of both themselves and the team. Most players have a goal of being recognised as an outstanding player. In order to be recognised, they have to play well over a series of matches. The overall goal of the individual player is therefore determined by performance of the team in matches and in that way the goals of each individual player integrates with the goal of the team.

Motivation is what drives the team to achieve. Individual players need good motivation before they can perform to their potential. Motivation comes from having a challenge that the player believes he is able of achieving. Teams are also challenged when they believe that they are capable of winning the match. Even the under dog can, on occasion beat the overwhelming favourite. In fact, the favourite can under-perform because the players “go through the motions” without motivation, while the underdog is challenged and motivated to achieve. When all the team members believe that the team can overcome the obstacles in the path to achieving the goal, we say the team has good group efficacy.

A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.

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