There is no I in a team and there is no one-size-fits-all kind of team either. The greatest developing asset of team sports is that it promotes inclusivity and diversity.
Throughout history, team sports have shown society that success relies not on uniformity and monotony but on the strengths of different people who work together towards a common goal. Educational institutions need to embrace this asset of team sports to encourage diversity and inclusivity.
Be an example
There are several movements nowadays that want to shed light on inequalities and exclusion. As a coach or educational institute, it is imperative to be an example and show the students and athletes the benefits of diversity. Cultures differ and we are richer for it if we choose to learn from each other.
Coaches are in the perfect position to display an accepting character and lead the way for the team to also learn from each other and build on each other’s strengths. If there are a diverse group of athletes in your squad, let them take turns to sit at the basketball scorers table and observe how other cultures do things. Sideline Interactive has amazing scoring boards that will entertain your team members as well as afford several players to sit at the table at once.
Develop a team culture
When there is a diverse group of players in your team, the best way to encourage the team to include everyone is to develop a team culture. This is an organic culture made up of all the different members and cultures of the team. This culture will differ for every team, but inclusivity should be at the heart of it.
No celebration should be done in isolation or while excluding someone. What many coaches find is that although inclusivity might not be at the heart of the team culture initially, it is an inevitable end when a team wins and loses together. They start to see the value of each member and begin to learn from each other.
Not everyone on a team has the same level of skill or abilities, but everyone in the team can bring something to the table. In team sports, coaches have the opportunity to use this difference in the ability to promote encouragement and upliftment. A coach should be very strict when it comes to negativity in a team.
No one should be allowed to talk down someone who made a mistake. Instead, teammates should have each other’s backs and encourage each other to improve. This can only be done when winning is not the main goal but rather the development of a team.
Be deliberate in selection
Coaches want to have the best players on their teams, but this means that all bias should be thrown out the window. Regardless of background, creed, or culture, a coach needs to look at talent and will find that it hides in the most unlikely of places. A mixed team is often the result and then it is the coach’s job to pair teammates who differ so that they can learn from each other.
Address the elephant in the room
A close-knit team is like a family and every member of a family has their baggage, history, personality and beliefs. Conflict is bound to come up and the last thing that a team wants is for the division to occur. Therefore, whenever there is a heated topic or controversial issue in a team, it should be spoken about openly. Hiding away from it or pretending it is a non-issue will only divide a team.