In last year’s NBA Finals, we witnessed San Antonio Spurs beat Miami Heat in one of the most one-sided series in recent memory. The Heat, lead by 4-time MVP Lebron James, and future Hall of famers Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, were completely outplayed by Gregg Popovich’s Spurs. Many people were left scratching their heads at how a team with so many great individuals could lose so dramatically. But it was clear to anyone who watched the games, that the secret to the Spurs’ success was “teamwork”. Whilst Popovich’s roster also contained it’s fair share of superstars, including 14 time All-Star Tim Duncan and 2007 Final MVP Tony Parker, his group of players were united as a team, committed to win together.
We’re going to look at some simple ways you too can turn your players into a team.
The Crazy Gang
In 1988, an English soccer team named Wimbledon famously beat Liverpool in one of the greatest shocks in FA Cup final history. The Liverpool team that lost were considered to be one of the greatest ever in English Football and the team who beat them, nicknamed the Crazy Gang, were thought of as an average team of hard-working players. Wimbledon were captained by Vinnie Jones, now a movie star who appeared in X-Men and Snatch, and managed by Dave Bassett who created a team spirit so strong they felt they could beat anyone. They fostered a collegiate team atmosphere that was like a brotherhood within a changing room. Wimbledon were nicknamed the Crazy Gang for a reason and some of their team-building activities got wild, crossing the line of appropriateness at times. What was special about them, though, was they created a team environment that players enjoyed being in. Many point to this team spirit was what helped Wimbledon to win the Cup. In today’s world, replicating type of setting in the changing room is even easier.
- How to Create Team Spirit in 2014? A. Use Technology
Back before everyone had a smartphone, most team bonding took place at the field or at practice. Now, you can build team spirit using just your smartphone. On team sports apps such as Mitoo, you can constantly stay in touch with your players. We’ve seen coaches use Mitoo to:
- Enjoy jokes and banter with players
- Send links to funny sporting videos
- Tell their players how excited they are about an upcoming game
- Congratulate their players on last game performance
Simply communicating regularly with your players can make a massive difference to team spirit. So utilize the technology to bring your players closer together.
Egos in teams
The reality is in any team there are some players who are better than others. This can sometimes to lead to some players developing an ego or an attitude where they feel certain tasks, like defending, are below them. This can cause problems in teams -See Kobe and Shaq – and the factions that came up. The best teams have no egos.
Popovich, a former member of the US Air Force, would never tolerate an ego in his roster and employed a hugely successful squad rotation policy. The Spurs’ bench finished the regular season first in scoring per game (44.5 ppg), field-goal percentage (47.8) and assists (10.9); second in rebounds (16.8) and 3-point percentage (39.1); and third in steals (3.3). Speaking on the squad rotation:
“It also does develop the bench, give them some confidence to play,” Popovich said of his carefully monitored rotation. “And hopefully in the end when playoff time comes, sometimes it’s a role player that steps up in a certain game and has a heck of a night and helps you.”
What you can do:
I advise that you organise one thing that a different player is responsible for each week and rotate whose turn it is every week.You could trust the players to wash and bring the kit, but that can be risky as players may forget. So if you’re less brave and can’t risk a player leaving the kit at home, just choose the socks. Always bring a enough spare old pairs that have a few holes in and are a little wet. No person wants to be the one who forgot the socks and caused the rest of team to wear smelly old socks. Having every player, even the superstars, have to do the same unwanted task removes ego and puts everyone on the same level, regardless of skill level.
Keep things transparent:
Be open in communication and let it be clear what everyone’s role is publicly. This will let everyone be aware of why decisions were made and why someone needs to take one for the team.
Different Horses for Different Courses:
There are styles of play that require a certain role for certain players. For example, Tim Duncan has been one of the best power forwards in the NBA for the past two decades. With a player like that, it would be unwise to not tailor some plays around his talents and his bank shot. Inevitably, though, this will affect other players’ role in the team. If you let the whole team know why you’ve made one player sacrifice for the team for others, you help the other players understand exactly the job that player is doing for the team. This works two-fold, in that players gain respect for the hard-workers and appreciate the work they do. The player making the sacrifices for the team doesn’t need to feel frustrated not taking shots because they know their role is valued and not measured in the same way a player like Duncan is.
Sports team communication platforms such as Mitoo allow you to connect your whole team directly, meaning you can keep important team news out in the open.
When to keep things Private:
Of course, there will be times when you need to speak privately. However, aside from personal issues like discipline and off-the-field matters, most of what you say should just be extensions of what was told in public. For example, details on exactly how the player should play the role or team tactics.
Creating a great team spirit takes time but trying some of these tips may help you to get closer.
Check out the Mitoo sports blog for more articles on the best ways to run your team and league.
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