Help 1st Year Players Integrate into Team Culture

When freshman and transfers enter your program, you want them to integrate into your team culture as quickly as possible.   To help make this transition smooth, here are three tips for coaches and five for athletes. These 8 ideas will build team chemistry.

Coaches to do list: 1) Welcome letter. After they sign their commitment letter or make the cut on your squad, send a letter welcoming them aboard.  Let the new player know how much you look forward to being able to work with him or her in the coming years. Give them all the contact information they need for staff if they have questions. Tell the particular important data about the school (registration times, etc) they should know Also, include team traditions and a brief history of the program.

2) An introductory walk. The tour can be given by yourself, older classmates or assistant coaches. It’s a great time to take the new players on a brief tour of the campus early after they arrive at school. The kids will already start to feel a bond with the team because of this simple exercise.

3) Regular follow up the first month. For the first couple of weeks, be more accessible to your players than later in the season. Consider 15-minute “freshman” only meetings during the early part of pre-season.

Athlete to do list: 1) Find a friend. First year players tend to band together, but if you are a loner type, you will wish you had a buddy. There are days when you are going to say, ‘Man, I had a terrible day out there.’ You need to have someone to lean on who will tell you, ‘Keep your head up.’

2) Relish the routine. It’s ok for veterans to get somewhat bored at the start of camp. That’s not the case for rookies. Bored is the last thing you should be. For a rookie, this should be one of the most exciting things you are doing in your life

3) Watch the guy/gal in front of you. This may sound like common sense and a cliché, but watch what the player in front of you on the depth chart is doing. They are above you for a reason and you can learn from him or her.

4) Earn the veterans respect. Veterans don’t particularly care about your past credentials. Respect the guys who have been here, be on time, be slow to speak and most of all learn your job. Be on time and prepared to answer the questions in a meeting room or a drill.

5) Go with the flow. Yes, veterans will mess with you. You’ll have to carry their equipment on and off the field. They might make you do a talent show or sing a song. But for the most part, you will do well to obey the veterans because they will take care of you and be like another coach. One last bit of advice: lock your dorm door because you never know what kind of a prank might happen.

Excerpted from the book Championship Performance Coaching Volume 2: 200+ Practical, Proven Sports Psychology and Team Building Strategies to Win More this Season