Kids in travel sports spend so much time together. Between practicing several days per week, holding fundraising events, and traveling to different cities for games, it's nearly impossible not to create a bond among the players.
Bonding is an important element of the group's dynamic. Building trust and camaraderie is imperative to the team's success, and it makes the season enjoyable for both the players and parents! It may seem to be inevitable, but some kids may be new to the team, attend different schools, or live on opposite sides ends of town, so it doesn't always happen without some guidance. What is the best way to make sure that teammates make that connection? This collection of team building ideas can help your squad gel, and even create memories that last a lifetime!
In between games:
- Watch other games! There is no better way for young athletes to relax than by being a spectator (for a change) in their sport of choice. They all love the game! By watching other teams play, they can enjoy the sport without the stress of actually participating, plus, they get to goof off in the stands, share jokes, and snacks in a relaxed environment.
- Collect stats and information on each player and do some team trivia! A few sample questions to ask are:
- Which player has the most siblings?
- Which player once brought two different cleats to the game?
- Which player has scored the most goals, ran for the most yards, hit the most home runs, etc?
- Which player hates bananas?
Even if the winner is only in it for bragging rights, it's a fun way to learn more about one another, and break the ice for the newer players!
Explore the Local Scene:
- Whether the team is visiting a new town or one they've played in many times before, there is always something new to see.
Plan to spend a free afternoon at the local bowling alley, laser tag arena, or miniature golf course. This is a fantastic way for the kids to bond outside of their usual element, where they can let-loose and have fun.
- Another great team bonding idea is take a tour of a local college sports arena or field. Regardless of the sport, most schools will oblige and give future recruits an insight of what they can expect in a few years. Be sure to call ahead and schedule the tour.
- Is the pro basketball or hockey team in town? If planned well, parents, or if possible, even team funds can provide the opportunity to purchase tickets. The coaches can take the kids out on a fun pro sports night (and parents get some free time)!
- Many teams rent a bus or van for their players to go from game to game while participating in tournaments. Having a kid-friendly music playlist is imperative! Kids love to sing along to music, especially in unison, and usually very loudly! Knowing your teammate's favorite song is a special way to get to know him or her better.
- Eating on the road is obviously a necessity. While a typical restaurant dinner can be fun, there is always an opportunity to make it more interesting! If the travel isn't too far, why not find a great spot in the park, or close to where the kids will be playing and plan a potluck dinner? Have each family bring something that is traditional from their culture to share with the group. Parents need to bond too, and becoming familiar with new dishes and their backgrounds, is a great way to get to know some new families, and a way to learn something new from a returning family!
At the Hotel:
- For older kids, parents can plan a Scavenger Hunt. Split them up into groups of 2-3 depending on the size of the roster, and send them off to discover hidden clues throughout the building. While keeping safety and hotel rules in mind, this can be a cool team bonding activity, especially for the newer kids.
- Hotel stays mean slumber parties! Pack a couple of board games for hours of free entertainment, and lots of laughs!
- Play the Birthday Line Up game. Without saying a single word, the kids line up in what they think is their order of birth from youngest to oldest. They have to do this over and over until they get it right. Sounds easy, but if they're all roughly the same age, it can get tricky!
There are so many ways to develop a strong bond while teams are at tournaments! Making the new kids feel welcome, as well as help those that don't get to spend time together outside of their sport develop friendships is crucial to ensure that the team will enjoy their season. After all, creating special team memories is one of the biggest reasons kids play sports!
Do you have more ideas on how teams can bond while traveling for tournaments? Share them with us in the comments!
Barbara is the mom behind the blog, Modern Sports Mom. She began writing a craft and lifestyle blog in 2012. As life evolved, and her boys became more involved in sports, she aimed to create a site that would resonate with moms like her, and in 2017 Modern Sports Mom was born. A baseball and football mom, she is fueled by her strong faith, dedication to her family, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee! Barbara lives in beautiful Southern California with her husband, kids, dog, and cat.