Free Team Building Activities for Athletic Teams
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In addition to promoting trust, communication and teamwork, team building exercises can help you discover and develop talents in both primary and secondary players. Team building helps your team learn to rely on the skills and strengths of all players rather than on the efforts of a few dominant individuals.
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Direct all participants except one to stand in a circle, about two feet apart. The extra person will stand in between two players. This person is the starting player. Tell players they are not allowed to say anything except the word "Go." Blow a whistle to start the game. The starting player will make eye contact with someone in the circle with the intent of getting that person to say "Go." Once the starting player receives the command, he will walk slowly toward the person who said "Go." The person who gave the command must then make eye contact with another person in the circle with the intent of getting that person to say "Go." Once this second person receives the command, she will start walking toward the person who just uttered "Go" and give up her position to the person approaching her. The idea is to get each person who gives a command to receive a command quickly enough to vacate his position and give it over to the player who is approaching him.
This game requires players to pay attention to both themselves and to the other team members. To make this more difficult, add a dribbling or passing element. Not only will this build teamwork, but it will also help train your players to pay attention to multiple stimuli at once.
Direct participants to stand in a tight circle. If you have an area with a mild slope, use this area; it will make the activity more challenging. Ask participants to place one arm inside the circle, just above their heads. Next, tell them to extend one finger. Lay a hula hoop on top of their extended fingers. The team's goal is to lower the hula hoop to the ground. No one is allowed to remove his finger from the hoop. No one is allowed to grasp the hoop or cup the hoop with his finger. The hoop must simply lie on top of each finger until it reaches the ground.
During this activity, participants often get impatient with each other. They may even start blaming one half of the circle for the group's failure to get the hoop to the ground. Use their interaction and comments to discuss the importance of teamwork and communication.
Star Player is an intellectual exercise, good for a rainy day or for when you're looking to give your team a little bit of a rest. Divide participants into groups of three to five people. Give each group a piece of paper and a pencil. Ask participants to imagine the ideal player for their team. Have them give the player a name and describe her in detail. They should catalog her characteristics and achievements and describe a typical game in which this player participates. Allow time for each group to share their person with the others. Discuss the role of the individual versus the team and what it means for your sport.
Linda Basilicato has been writing food and lifestyle articles since 2005 for newspapers and online publications such as eHow.com. She graduated magna cum laude from Stony Brook University in New York and also holds a Master of Arts in philosophy from the University of Montana.