A common problem for many coaches is how to get a group of athletes, often of varying fitness or skill levels, to perform as a team. Many great coaches have emphasized that having a group of extremely talented athletes does not guarantee a successful team, but rather that success is more often the result of a group of athletes of lesser talent who chose to work together to achieve a shared team outcome.
The difference between a group and a team
Getting a group of athletes to perform as a team is not always easy. Just because a group of athletes may train and compete together under the direction of the one coach that does not automatically define that collection of individuals as a team. Rather, a group of athletes becomes a team when they all possess a common identity, have shared goals and objectives, exhibit structured patterns of interaction and communication, and most importantly consider themselves to be a ‘team’. When self-categorisation is present, that is, when the collection of athletes start referring to themselves as ‘we’ versus ‘they’, coaches can feel confident that a team is beginning to emerge!