Gatorade baths. Secret handshakes. Pregame team dinners. Sports are rich in tradition, and for good reason.
Traditions aren’t extraneous to the program: they serve an important purpose both in terms of prosocial connections and actual sports performance.
In addition to establishing strict behavior codes, enforcing non-negotiables, and cultivating friendships, traditions are another way of creating a positive team culture in the program.
This is what traditions look like:
First and foremost, traditions should be fun and unique to your team. But they can also provide informal learning experiences that will enrich girls’ lives.
As a coach, you can create moments in time on a regular basis where this kind of learning happens. This is often called reflection. In sports, we call it “team time.”
There are only three required elements to successful team time
It happens regularly and often. Girls need to practice this and know it’s coming.
You, the coach, get the mic for the rest of practice, but team time is for the girls. It’s not about what you want to talk about; it’s what they want to talk about.
Circles allow everyone to feel like a part of the group. As a coach, you can ask open-ended questions so the girls can think, respond, and share.
Team time also provides an opportunity for the girls to give feedback to you. As a coach, you could be bringing drills and challenges to the team that are drawn from the most respected and successful professional programs. But if your girls aren’t getting anything out of them, it is your responsibility to adjust the practices to foster growth. Team time is a valuable resource for you to check your work and pivot if needed.