What Are the Benefits of Team Building Exercises?

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Encouraging your sports team to participate in team-building exercises can significantly improve your team's cohesiveness and your team members' level of enjoyment and satisfaction. Being part of a team can be an empowering experience for many, but for some, it can be challenging--and sometimes even damaging--if your team's dynamics are skewed. Team-building exercises help improve communication and motivation, and they can help create an environment in which each team mate can thrive.

Improves Communication

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According to the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), your ability to communicate with your team members is an important sports psychology skill to master. As a coach, encouraging your team to engage in team-building exercises that improve communication between your players can help you establish realistic expectations about performance and cultivate appropriate behavior, both in and out of the competitive venue. Improving your team's communication skills can create a healthier environment for all team members too. If your team's lines of communication are open, your teammates may be more likely to approach your coach about injuries or other sports-related problems. Knowing that your concerns will be heard and addressed by your coaches or peers is an important benefit associated with team-building exercises.

Improves Motivation

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Athletes draw motivation from numerous sources; some are internal, while others are external. For many, the motivation to continue participating in sports comes from the camaraderie generated by teammates rallying around a common cause. Participating in team-building exercises can be an effective way of reminding your teammates about what's important--in terms of sports participation--and what's not, and it can help renew your teammates' dedication to your collective effort. According to a 2008 article by the Sports Psychology Research Laboratory at McGill University and published in the "Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance," team-building exercises have an intuitive appeal for coaches and athletes alike, although it's important to understand that some team activities can result in the development of cliques and the alienation of certain team members, which can drain your team's motivation and negatively impact your overall performance. To improve your team's motivation, consider performing team-building activities that are inclusive and constructive.

Creates a More Cohesive and Productive Environment

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Team-building exercises are intended to create a more cohesive and productive environment in which team members can realize the full psychological benefit of sports participation. According to a 2003 study published by McGill University researchers in "Avante," team-building interventions have a positive effect on team members' perceptions of social cohesion. If your team environment is not cohesive and your team members' goals are disparate, it's likely that your team's overall productivity will suffer. To boost your team's cohesiveness and productivity, consider performing team-building exercises that promote a unified goal and recognize and celebrate each team member's unique contribution to the group's success. A more cohesive and productive team environment will be more enjoyable and improve your team members' quality of life and, possibly, your team's performance.