Being a part of a team is an important aspect of being involved in sport. Teams can create a sense of belonging, excitement, and connectedness. Even with individual sports, a sense of team can be created and is encouraged to help with motivation, interest, and persistence. Athletes are involved in teams for a variety of reasons: to be with friends, to build their skills with others, and sometimes, for the uniform! Regardless of the reason behind participation, it is important to create a sense of family to increase positive team dynamics.
Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Team Connection'
- Have athletes develop or modify a cheer during warm-up.
- Use the cool down to teach a cheer.
- Use an existing team cheer during practice more than once.
- Do a team-building activity for warm-up. Don't forget to talk about the activity and why it was done.
Youth have fun in sport when they can make meaningful connections with a coach. A coach’s role is not only to teach sport skills and strategies but to also establish a respectful and fun connection with their athletes. These types of interactions build trust but also allow a coach to learn more about the young people they encounter. It is still important, however, to set boundaries (i.e., you do not necessarily need to engage them on social media but you could set up a separate account that you may share).These small actions alone may be enough to keep an athlete coming to a sport program.
Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Coach Connection'
- Develop a special ‘handshake’ with each of your players.
- Go to practice early and greet players. Encourage conversation about how school and work are going or weekend plans. Athletes just want to know that you care about them as people.
- Set up a separate Instagram page that you may just use for your athletes to engage with you. On that page you can share inspirational links and quotes as well as send out birthday wishes to your athletes, etc.
Sport does not only happen on the playing field. Parents play a crucial role in a child's sport participation and integrating parents into the sport will help shape the experience of the child (and the parent!). Given this, it is equally important that parents understand the demands of the activity. Parents can be wonderful allies to the youth sport experience
Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Parent Connection'
- Have parents involved in the team cheer or handshake at the end of a game.
- Have parents/guardians participate in a drill (preferable one created by the team!)
- Have parents help with equipment throughout the practice.
- Have parents participate in a short scrimmage and ask athletes to coach them. Debrief after by highlighting the importance of supportive parents and coaches during games.
Establishing links with the community is an important way to help athletes feel more connected to the world around them. Being involved in sport can be isolating and encourages youth to be self-absorbed at times. When they can connect to community, even in a small way, this helps them to see beyond themselves and keep perspective on their own participation, encouraging gratitude and a broader view of the world.
Recommended SCORE Plays – 'Community Connection'
- Pick a cause to support during a practice or a game that may have particular meaning to the team (i.e., they may decide to wear something blue one day or throughout the year to bring awareness to an anti-bullying campaign)
- During one of the last practices of the year, the team may decide to bring a non-perishable food item to support a local food bank. The practice drills could have a ‘food name’ for that practice that the youth develop.
- The team could volunteer at a local community event or volunteer at a food bank or shelter to help others.