Monday, June 13, 2005

QotW: Team-building

Football season is coming up (woohoo). Minicamps have started around the country, and I saw something on ESPN about the Packers playing dodgeball. It was supposed to be a team-building activity. Have any of you tried so called team-building activities, and if so, how successful do you think they were?


gwbuhl said...

During the winter, Rutgers has indoors sessions in a gymnasium once a week. Each session lasts about an hour and a half, starts with some plyometrics, then moves to conditioning. The only ultimate skill that they work on is marking. The last 20 minutes is a set of stations.

It is a very intense workout, and I have found that merely surviving these sessions builds respect and camaraderie among the players.

I suppose there are video sessions and the occasional party, but I've found that comming together and persevering through agony does a fine job of team building.

heacox said...

I have to agree that perseverance through agony is a great way to build trust and camradarie on a team.

That being said, I think a bigger issue facing a lot of second-tier teams is just getting twenty players who are on the same page, who all want to give 100% and improve their skills and win games. I imagine Chain and Ozone (please correct me if I'm wrong) don't have players that regularly miss practices or workouts, and therefore would probably benefit from playing dodgeball or haivng a ping pong tournament, but what do you do when you have players on your roster who refuse to "get with the program?"

I think this is a team-building issue as well, as I have seen it exist on all levels of ultimate (except perhaps elite club).

I think that activities like trust exercises and "cross training" games like dodgeball benefit a team both mentally and physically, but does anyone have any suggestions about how to get players to make the team a priority, wheter it's for a pasta dinner or an out-of-town tournament?

[And remember, circumstances often dictate that cutting these people isn't an option.]


wood said...

The intense workout team building comments reminds me of what Mark Richt started at the University of Georgia football team a few years back. In spring football, they do mat drills and their mantra is finish the drill. I don't know exactly what the drills are, but the players all talk about how terrible they are and how it prepares them for the season.

Heacox, I definitely agree that getting players to buy in should be a priority for many teams. I think a key is getting the players to care about one another. I try to build a family environment, hoping that the players will eventually do what is best for the team rather than what they would do selfishly. It's easier said than done. I would think anytime you can get the whole group together doing something (preferably _not_ ultimate) that it will help build that family atmosphere. I say not ultimate because until everyone buys in, any game (especially if the team is struggling) can push the team apart.

Heacox will probably remember Rival's first year. We had seperate o/d squads. I really encouraged the two groups to bond seperately. We used the other squad in and adversarial role to encourage bonding within squads. This worked well for the defense, we all bought in and played very well together. Offensively, it didn't work as well, though it was probably because the stronger individual personalities were on the offensive team. Anyway, my point is that you can build team bonds by having a common goal, the simpler the better. On Rival, we were able to get the defense on the same page by focusing on beating the offense at everything (on and off the field).

Julia said...

I've always been lucky enough to be on a team where everyone wanted to be there and give as much as they could. That being said, I've participated in many different activities that were used to help the team bond outside of the frisbee realm.

First, we had Lori Nacius on Ozone, and since her job was essentially to work with (usually corporate) teams to help build unity, she often did those same activities with us. Did they work? Who knows. I learned about myself and my teammates though. They were everything from the crazy - the whole team stood on a tablecloth that was maybe 6' by 6' and we had to turn it over without anyone getting off of the tablecloth, to the interesting - we had to "coach" our teammate into setting a mouse trap with our eyes closed. Talk about trust issues.

When Baccarini was around, he would have us play games like dodgeball, which we actually tried once. Katherine Wooten, with her water polo training, kept throwing it hard. Someone almost lost a head. He also used to have us use a soft frisbee to play dodgeball with. I'm not sure why he had us do that, but I'm sure it had something to do with movement and dynamic that is not involve a (real) disc.

Anyway, these don't answer any questions, more just provide examples of what some other people have tried. I found them all to be interesting and fun. And you can't help but bond with your teammates when you are all stuck together on a 6' by 6' area.

Cat said...

I think these things can be fun, but sometimes when it's like, more athletic related stuff I start to feel like, "Man, we have practice four times a week and now I'm going to have to go and do another athletic thing with my team." Sometimes, I'd rather just go to the gym.

We also have social and spirit people on our team that do things like, coordinate parties, manage the website, and give our prizes. We give out a lot of prizes. And these things are just as important in building team unity. Sometimes, when you are extremely competitive, having fun, being silly while still rewarding your teammates is just as important. For instance, people with the best attendance get a prize at our parties (and it's actually pretty badass).