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  • Jack Fleming

The Ultimate Team Building Exercise

You get a new team, new players, different backgrounds — how do you make them come together as quickly as possible? As famous NBA coach Doug Collins said, trust must always comes before truth. If you want to hold your players accountable, there must be a relationship of trust that comes first. Breaking down the walls of young men or women can be difficult, but if you lead by example and show your own vulnerability you can give great power to your players.

Below is a pre-season team building exercise I did with my U16 boys before the start of the 2018 season, where we spent a weekend away together. We did not train or have any basketball, there were no phones, but it allowed the boys to grow closer and deepen their relationships. We almost came back with an identity as a team, that each could be held accountable to. Here are the powerpoint slides that accompanied the exercises, I went first on every exercise. Even for myself it was difficult at times, but it allowed the young men to speak with freedom and safety which was beneficial to the process.

The exercises were inspired by author Jon Gordon, Lewis Howes (author of the Mask of Masculinity) and Mike Krzyzewski — coach of Duke University and specifically attributed to his book The Gold Standard: Building a World Class Team.

With each slide we went around the room and shared our thoughts on each of the questions posed. It was quiet early, but as we got deeper people who had not spoken eventually felt comfortable to share with the team and others we could not stop talking. I was so proud to watch young men share moments in their lives they might not have ever spoken about before. That is truly magical.

Brene Brown said:

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Why are we here? What is the purpose of this season?

Team cohesion is a critical part of the path to success as a team, especially when we have to endure challenge and adversity. If you want to build trust amongst your team, and strengthen your relationships I suggest you try something like this! Change it, suit it to your level but remember on the other side of fear is power. The things you want to avoid are the things you should do. If you can’t, then you must.

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