What are the key components of having a successful team? Well it’s obvious to think of things such as talent, passion, work ethic, flexibility, and skill; however I believe that the one component that is often overlooked is developing chemistry.
I don’t mean that you and your team should go rent out a lab and mix chemicals together and hope not to blow anything up, but rather find ways to connect with each other both inside and outside the sport. I get that when you play a sport at an elite level you have to do your job despite whether if you like who you are working with. I am just trying to imagine the 1980 Soviet Union Men’s National Hockey Team being all kumbaya around a campfire and I just can’t. So maybe they weren’t such a team bonding bunch maybe that worked for them. However during the 1980 Olympics they were beaten by Team USA who under Herb Brooks was known for developing team building exercises, no matter how nontraditional they may be…. AGAIN!
So when asked what makes a successful team I believe that there is a formula (sticking with this whole chemistry theme). That formula is team bonding = trust, trust translates into chemistry, and chemistry = success. Mind blowing stuff I know.
When it comes to picking out the right team bonding activity, you should take into account the types of personalities that are on your team. You also want an activity that is going to push people out of their comfort zone and have to rely on others to get the job done, all while working on a college budget.
Taking in all these factors of what makes a great team bonding experience, this year myself and the rest of the captains on our team came up with the idea to go Paintballing. We (the captains) knew that our team wanted to be active when it came to a team bonding exercise. We also knew that paintball would be a great stress reliever… I’ll admit it felt kinda good to shoot some of your teammates endlessly. However most importantly we knew that we would have to work together in a high stress/anxiety situation.
So when the day came to go to Team Paintball, things got real. Girls showed up decked out camouflage and war paint, trash talking was spewing, and nobody blinked an eye when it came to firing away at a teammate. The staff over at AAA Paintball ran our team through 3 different courses throughout the forest. The first course was a tank field, second course was capture the flag, and third was defend the castle.
At the end of the day everyone was covered in blood, bruises, paint, welts, sweat, and mud. We came together as a team and when it was all over we were laughing, comparing battle scars and explaining our heroic stories of how we shot up a teammate. We all than went to an early dinner together and the conversation turned to hockey and how we were all so excited for it to finally begin. Hearing that talk about hockey just reinforced the idea that this team bonding experience was a success. After a long preseason where people were starting to lose focus, we were able to provide an activity to reignite the passion of why we play hockey. That’s because team bonding activities bring out for the competitiveness, the friendship, the family, the strategy, the excitement but most importantly for the love of the game.
The Oswego State 2015-2016 Hockey Team at AAA Paintball