University of Vermont

Team Building

Team Building

Team Building

What is team building? Why is it important? What are the consequences of poor team building exercises? These are all very important questions that will help your team work effectively with one another in order to accomplish numerous goals and, most importantly, to have fun while doing it.

What is Team Building

In order to have an effective team, all players should, not only focus on personal growth, but also the growth of the team. Working together, helping out one another, and being cooperative are basic skills that are necessary for having a team, especially in sports such as soccer or basketball where it is absolutely crucial for everyone to work together. Team building can be done using team building exercises and there are thousands to choose from.

Exercises and Icebreakers

There are many types of team building exersizes that focus on different skills and qualities. Beware though because there are also team building exercises that reinforce negative qualities rather than promoting the positive ones. Here are some examples of positive exersizes to help you out.


Ask a group of ten or thirteen people to form a tight circle. Have each person extend both hands into the center, and grasp the hand of two different people. When this is completed, the group must then untangle the knot they have created. Physical hand-to-hand contact may not be broken to untangle the knot. Grips may change and palms may pivot on one another, but contact must be maintained. If time is running out, the problem can be simplified by breaking one grip and asking the group to form a single line instead of a circle.


For this one you need a ball of string. A few people attatch string to one end of a room; tie it at diffrent places and heights to form a giant spider web. Depending how complex your web is you can blind fold the other teammates and then original web makers can instruct their mates through the web to the other side of the room. Another option is to play mission impossible theme song, dim the lights, and have challanges to see who can get through to the other side of the room without touching the 'laser beams'.

BLT and Friends (Blind Limited Talker)

For this exercise you will need tape, blindfold, and something to bind feet together such as shoelaces, scarf, or tie. The goals may include, but are not limited to: Discovering the benefits of team work; discussing spiritual gifts; viewing handicaps in a new light; Discussing strengths and weaknesses. Groups should be set up of minimum three people. Each person will be assigned an ability: either sight, speech, or locomotion, and will be made disabled in the other two abilities. For example if you were assigned sight you would then have your feet bound together and your mouth taped shut to represent being paralyzed from the waist down and being unable to create any sound with the vocal cords. Participants must work together to navigate their entire team from one location to another

For many more ideas and exercises click here.

Team Activities

Team building does not necessarily have to be done using exercises. Your team could just go out and spend some time together. Getting to know one another off the field is very important because, although you may be spending a lot of time together at practice, you may not really know each other in every day life. There are unhealthy ways of getting to know eachother outside of sports though. If you always go out to parties or keggers together, you still don't really know them. Instead, try taking a hike together or just go out on a sunny day and sit on the green together.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy and the Effects They Have

Although there are many, many strategies to team building, there are some unhealthy and counterproductive ways. Things like requiring new members to complete club-inappropriate tasks and treating newer members negatively and harshly and putting members with "seniority" on a pedestal. Of course, newer members are not nearly as acquainted with one another as the older members, however, this may be overcome by simply getting to know one another, rather than, what seems to come off as, punishing them for being new or young. This may seem redundant because many lectures are given every year on anti-hazing and how much of a negative impact such actions can have on a young person, but it seems as though, because it is talked about so much, that people don't really acknowledge it or pay attention. This results in people not knowing what signs to look for though. These are some things that may help you detect inappropriate team treatment:

- Cutting, branding, labeling, or shaving of parts of the body

- Required “greeting” of members in a specific manner when seen on campus

- Required walking in groups to class, the cafeteria, etc.

- Required carrying of certain items

- Loss of voice due to having to yell

- Performing of special tasks for the members or others

- Required attendance at late night work sessions, resulting in sleep deprivation

- Not coming home for days or weeks at a time

- Not being able to sit down or soreness from paddling

- Physical exhaustion from multiple sit ups, running, or other calisthenics

- Appearance of mental exhaustion or withdrawal from normal lifestyle; change in personality

- Appearance of sadness or expressions of inferiority

- Withdrawal from normal activities or friends

- Being dropped off and made to find the way back


These may not seem like such detrimental actions on a person, however, being drawn out over periods of time can seriously damage someone's mental psych. They also could lead to very unhealthy habits such as problems with alcohol, stress, poor nutrition, inconsistent sleeping patterns, accidental injuries, academic difficulties, illness, relationship difficulties, apathy, self harm, and problems with the law. If you know somebody in either positions of hazing or being hazed, please do not hesitate to confront them. If you are being hazed, please know that these people clearly do not have your best interested at hand, or they may not realize that what they are doing is hurtful and damaging so try talking to them alone, outside of the scene or crowd where the hazing is being done.

Rather than these harsh techniques of "team bonding" simple methods such as encouragement and support will bond not only a group of people, but will bond their hearts together and the team will get along and be much closer than if they were to just go out drinking all the time. There are simple things to remember such as, treat others how you want to be treated, be respectful, be polite, encourage inclusion and participation, be supportive and uplifting, and help each other out. Have fun, have a laugh, help people to get to know each other on a deeper basis and your team will excel greatly; even if not on the court, you will become a family rather than a team and that is much more important than any medal or trophy will ever be.

Last modified January 08 2013 09:33 AM

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