Team Cohesion

As with individual factors (i.e., physical fitness, mental fitness), team dynamics (i.e., cohesion) are equally important and have a significant impact on how both the individual and team perform. The way the individual team members interact and influence one another has a dramatic effect on the way a team operates. Cohesion is one such team dynamic that is vital in helping teams reach peak performance. Cohesion refers to the forces within a team that act on its individual members, helping them feel part of the team and remain loyal to it. If a team is cohesive, its members get along well, support one another, communicate and cooperate well, and feel responsibility not only for themselves, but for all members of the team. So how do you ensure team cohesion? Well, there are a number of key elements that promote cohesion: 1. Effective communication. It is vital that players in a team are able to communicate with each other in a respectful, open and honest way. Communication must be direct and clear, so all players know what is happening and how the other members of their team are travelling. Effective communication helps to build trust and respect within a team. Without these components, cohesion is likely to break down. 2. Responsibility and Ownership. As a team player, you have to accept responsibility and ownership for both yourself and all your teammates. Your actions and attitude reflect what kind of player you are, but also reflect on the team as a whole. Before you say or do anything, think about how it might impact on your other teammates. 3. Mutual Respect. Team members must respect themselves and their fellow team members. It is important to recognise the distinction between liking someone and respecting them. As a team player, you don’t necessarily have to like and socialise with all members of your team, but you do have to respect them. Similarly, all team members do not necessarily have to like you! But they do have to respect you as a person and as a player. It is important to maintain this respect both on and off the field. Each player should do their best to include other players and ensure that all players feel that they are an important part of the team. Remember “treat others as you would like to be treated”. 4. Support and Cooperation. Clearly mutual support and cooperation from all members of the team is very important in building team cohesion. If a player is not feeling supported, they should feel able to discuss these concerns with their captain or coach. Regular team meetings should address any concerns players have and prevent individual players from feeling isolated within their team. 5. Common Goals. It is vital that the goals of the individual team members and the goals of the team as a whole are not in conflict. The goals of individual players should not undermine one another. All members should be aware of their teammates’ individual goals, as well as the common team goals. As a team player, you have to know what you are fighting for, and you need to know that all your teammates are working towards the same thing. Goal setting, which can be done in team meetings or training, is very important. This is something that needs to be addressed at the outset of the season where common short and long-term goals are established, and then these need to be reviewed at regular intervals during the season. See Ways to Promote Team Cohesion

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