People in cultures from all corners of the world swaddle their infants. They wrap them tightly in material so that the baby is constrained yet comfortable.
Arms tight to their sides, just their face clear for breathing, the child is soothed by the containment. It’s like a long-term hug, the comfort of being right where they are and their brains not having to consider much outside the swaddling material.
Entire teams can be swaddled, comforted by the feeling of being surrounded by known people, expectations and norms. Being accepted by those around you and understanding the clear rules and standards of a team offers the comfort of familiarity even if circumstances or relationships are challenging, or may sometimes feel personally constraining.
Are your team members given wide-open freedom to do what they think they should do or are they guided–gently but surely–by the comfort of clear team standards?
Is your way working?
The state of recruiting in many collegiate sports means that many players have deep relationships with coaches as recruiters by the time the kids arrive on campus. Soon, the team culture and friendships becomes an important part of their world as well.
Player to player relationships typically are socially based, leaving the physical, skill and even commitment-to-the-program development up to coaches in meetings, one-on-one sessions and off-season work.
What if teams spent time communicating what each member (players and coaches) was working on and how others could be a part of this improvement? Is there room in your program for less behind-closed-doors communication? Opening the “this is how i’m going to get better for the team” communication to all may help to both further understanding of what’s important and model transparency and common goals.
It will also help kids to see outside of themselves and recognize that they are responsible to add to the team, and also can take/get a lot from their teammates in ways that they may not have thought about. Open, honest and direct communication will help move kids and teams forward.