BFF’s: Why Friendship Is Important To Your Team

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John Wooden is a coaching rock star and legend.   So I thought, what better gift to give my readers during my blog vacation than a series on Wooden’s Pyramid of Success?  Join me for a series of posts that will delve into both the foundation and apex of his Pyramid and examine Wooden’s thoughts on Industriousness, Enthusiasm, Friendship, Loyalty, Cooperation, Competitive Greatness, and finally, Faith & Patience.

Friendship

One of the things that I love about Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is that he was a man coaching men.  I know that that sounds obvious, but many times, the intangibles (like friendship and getting along) are seen as “female traits” and things that only coaches of females need to be worried about.  Well, thank goodness for John Wooden (and his ten national championships in twelve years!) and his assertion that the intangibles hold no gender…that they’re equally as important to men’s teams as they are to women’s.  Now let’s look at the…

**4 ways to encourage camaraderie and friendship on your team**

1.       Forced friendliness: At the beginning of the season, when the newbies don’t really know the returners all that well, you’ve got to manufacture the friendliness…with the hope that it’ll turn into real friendship.  Whether it’s team dinners, studying together, or movie nights…you’ve got to make them hang around each other off of the court early on in the season.

2.       Upperclassmen as mentors: Some teams will match a freshman up with a senior or other upperclassmen, with the older players charged with helping the newbie navigate campus (picking classes, professors, etc.) as well as being a friendly face on campus.  This also helps break down the walls that are naturally there between the upperclassmen and the newcomers.

3.       Secret pals: This can be a weekly thing or something special your team does just around the championships.  But players pick names and secretly give small gifts to whoever they picked.  Usually it’s just a Gatorade or bag of snacks with a motivating note attached to it.  Ideally, you’ve done enough team building stuff with them that they actually know the things that their teammates like so that their gift can be truly appreciated.

4.       Captain council: Years ago, I’d read High Hopes by Gary Barnett and he talked about this idea of picking someone from each class to be a captain.  Using that model, at least everyone’s perspective gets heard by the coaching staff and hopefully they’re able to build respect for each other during the process of meeting with you as a Council.  The upside of the Captain Council is that the natural hierarchy is broken down because your freshman captain will have the same input as your senior.

Friendship on a team is a powerful motivator.  As Wooden says, “the blocks in between my two cornerstones make a strong and solid foundation because they include others and show that it takes a united effort to succeed.”  Next up:  Loyalty.

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