So, what does a genuinely good team look like? What are the characters, and how do they behave? How can we prepare them for peak performance during the crises that so often occur in sport? If we are looking for a summary answer to this question, we must say that a good team respects individuality. And team cohesion should not be about “fitting” individuals into a team, but about exploiting their full potential!
Team-oriented personalities – who by definition subordinate their own goals to the interests of the team – clearly and easily enter into cohesion with each other, because they know exactly that they need each other. And in this case, the need must be understood in concrete terms! They see perfectly well¬ at least they think they do ¬ that they cannot achieve nearly as much on their own as they can as a team. Unfortunately, in many cases, this whole question of belief turns into a situation where even world-class athletes are convinced that they cannot achieve meaningful results on their own, and in team sports, it is very difficult to get to the point where they say, yes, I achieved this victory on my own. In most cases, team-oriented players will not even dare to go so far as to say, at least to themselves, that yes, they played a huge part in the team doing well. It just doesn’t fit their characters. And while this may seem very sympathetic, unfortunately, if the athlete is really stuck at the level of being insignificant without their team, they will not take responsibility for themself during crises. Of course, this does not mean that they will never take a shot when the team really needs them. They will, but mostly at the cost of “mental violence”. After all, they are a top athlete, they are a high-quality player, and they will kick, throw, or shoot, depending on the sport. But that, unfortunately, has all their fear and anxiety in it, and that does not bode well for the outcome. That’s why it’s so important that when it comes to team-oriented characters, as team development professionals, we shouldn’t be satisfied with how well they can work together! Indeed, you need to “untie the cohesive knots” to have a mentally healthy group that can take responsibility for the team. This part of the development process will determine whether we create a good average team or a team that can really rise to their potential, whatever that means for the team.
Respect for individual focus in the team
Team-oriented athletes, therefore, have a challenge, as it is easy to hide behind team goals. But it must be acknowledged that the team members and the team leader respect this character, because after all, the team is the most important thing to them. But how can you respect a self-focused team member who puts their own goals before the team’s goals? Is this important to address? I mean, in the right situations, who does what they do and why, or should we just be happy with the outcome? So, is it worth dealing with the situation from the mental preparation side, both as a team member and as a head coach? Isn’t it all the same why a team member scored the decisive penalty or the all-important goal in the last minutes? Was it because they wanted to make the headlines or because they could get a better contract for the next season? It doesn’t matter, because the whole team benefited from the result! And that’s what a team needs to keep in mind, especially professionals that deal with mental development and team cohesion. In mental coaching, great emphasis should be placed on team members understanding each other’s motivation, their origins, and consequences. But then it is even more important to manage that no one has the right to judge! The value judgements and motivations of other team members must be respected, so that everyone will respect the team’s performance! In many projects, this phenomenon is simply not discussed, as it is believed that it is better to keep it quiet in a team. And it works when there are no stakes. It significantly reduces the amount of friction during preparation. But what good is it if, in a critical situation, team members are at each other’s throats? Not spectacularly, the team just falls apart. It could end up being a one-goal, one-point difference, and no one would suspect the serious mental error behind it all. And they’ll imagine that they will finally have luck on their side next time. Which, of course, usually never happens, because it’s not all down to luck!