Friday, October 3, 2014

Team Chemistry

This is the first follow up on the T-E-A-M post from a couple of weeks ago. Now I don't know about you but chemistry wasn't my favorite subject unless we're talking about a perky little redhead I once knew. Which is a whole other subject. But team chemistry in sports is an essential ingredient to success yet seemingly impossible to manufacture on demand. It is why it's good for teammates to enjoy each other's company and do things outside of their sport and why teams large and small, professional and amateur arrange for team activities where the players can do things together that aren't strictly competing or preparation. But even though everybody goes through the motions looking for it the results are always uncertain. Unlike chemistry in the lab there is no formula for success. There are however a few signs a team is moving in the right direction.
Unity of purpose. Commitment to the program. Internal and external leadership. Identity.
Everybody needs to be on the same page. In order to share a unifying purpose everyone needs to know where the team is going--and more importantly agree on how it's going to get there. Even so there will inevitably be disagreements and struggles. And working past them requires a renewed agreement or in the case of an impasse, a roster change.
Superstar or part time role player everyone stays focused on the team and what the team needs in order to be successful. Team always comes first.
External leadership is the guiding hand on a ship's rudder and internal leadership arises from within the group of players--the person who keeps everyone on point and the personality that draws all the others together and keeps all the oars pulling in unison. (Since I'm apparently using nautical metaphors today.)
This is who we are as a team and this is how we play the game. Identity begins to form when a team has a core philosophy (whether everyone can articulate it or not) and begins to implement their shared understanding of the game when they play together.

Keep in mind these are simply signs of forming chemistry and there are teams that are atypical. For example it is entirely possible to have a team of players that constantly bicker yet still play as a well oiled machine when the horn sounds. And every team will always have different characteristics but underneath the individual quirks and eccentricities the foundational principles still apply.

Sounds great but how does it translate onto the field of competition? I'm glad I asked as that will be the next topic for discussion in this series of posts.

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