Team building in the athletic arena is likely the most important skill for a coach to master. While the public is looking at star players and winning maneuvers, the prudent coach is constantly surveying his or her team, analyzing it as a whole. The actual sport being played is probably secondary to the dynamics of the group. Stories abound of players who fell into the trap of believing the headlines, letting the momentary glory go to their heads. A team is exactly that: a team. This means moving forward as one body, each part fully aware that it is in need of and in service to all other parts. If there is a well-executed play, good defensive mechanics, even a spectacular winning goal, it is the team which is to be recognized.
Children are generally born self-centered, needing little help forming a natural disposition toward self-preservation. As self-confidence gains momentum during the early years, wise parents, teachers and community leaders recognize the need to cultivate the principles of group mechanics and what is commonly referred to as “the long view”. Coaches who train youth sports teams are privileged to a window into the formative years of a person, influencing that boy’s or girl’s character and, therefore, their future. The benefits of playing team sports from a young age do not really show up until after a person has left school and entered the working world. It’s easy to spot the team players in the office, for example, versus the solo artists. The sports field, whether at school or extra-curricular, is a wonderful place to develop the individual’s star power. A solid coach then deliberately channels it into a team of excellence and integrity.