Team Bonding in Kids Travel Sports
Team Building and Team Bonding is crucial for a top travel team
I have been coaching my daughter's travel softball team for many years. One thing I know in order to have a team play at a very high level, the team needs to bond. Not only that, the parents need to bond. As a coach, bonding is not something you do, it is something you lead your team to do.
Bonding takes on many forms. It could happen during a game where the team comes back and wins. It could happen during practice where a teammate does something they have worked a long time at. It could happen someplace unrelated to the context of the sport being played. Team building is synonymous to team bonding.
I live in a suburb of Chicago in a town called Naperville, Illinois. I would attempt to describe the different places where I have seen teams bond and watch the whole become bigger than the individual parts.
Go Watch a Game Together
One of the great things about being on a softball team, baseball team, soccer team, basketball team, or any other team sport is hanging out with your teammates. Getting off the field and watching the game you play as a fan is a great way to have some fun without the pressures of winning and losing. While watching games, you can talk about strategies the teams are using and even notice that the referees and umpires at this level sometimes make bad calls.
Luckily in Chicago, there are plenty of opportunities to go see Pro teams like the Chicago Bandits, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago Red Stars. As well as lower level baseball teams like the Kane County Cougars, the Schaumburg Flyers, or the Joliet Jackhammers.
Team Building with a Hula Hoop
This is an exercise I used when I was President of the PTA. You take the group and have everybody hold hands with one pair holding hands within the hula hoop. The idea is to make the hula hoop go around the circle without letting go. The learning is that "Together we can do anything".
To make it more exciting, use two hula hoops going in opposite directions.
Team Bonding and Helping Starving Children
In Illinois, Minnesota, and Arizona, there is an organization called Feed My Starving Children. Volunteers pack meals which are then shipped around the world to held the hungry. My family participates in the packing about 3-4 times per year. I am the team manager for my daughter's travel soccer team, and we brought my daughter's team to the facility as a bonding experience. My older daughter's softball team has also participated.
There are many other organizations that help FMSC, like schools, churches, and local businesses. 93% of the money FMSC collects goes to the purchase and delivery of the food they pack.
Parents vs. Kids Scrimmage
One of the best ways to get parents to bond is to have them play a game against their kids. Soccer, softball, and baseball are easy and fun. Typically, around 12 years old the kids start beating the parents in these type of games.
Kids love trying to beat their parents at something they've been training at. And giving them the opportunity to coach themselves will help the kids bond as well.
Another great way to get parents and kids together is to have a potluck in the middle of the season. We recently did a potluck which included ordering pizza and each family bringing an appetizer or desert. Finding a host for the potluck should be pretty easy, typically, a house with a big kitchen and a large basement for the kids in the winter. Or a large yard in the summer.
Having a project for the kids is always a good plan during the event. For girls, making headbands or hair ties is popular these days. Not sure if there is something boys would like to make. But, if you have boys, make sure you have a lot of room for them run around and play.