View Full Version : Team Building
03-14-2007, 06:52 AM
CAK made a nice post at the end of another thread about building team morale, etc. It made me wonder what other things captains do to enhance the team experience.
In our league, there's no post-match eating and drinking. We are a county league playing at county facilities. When players finish early, they might stay and watch their teammates, but they often instead go home because our weeknight matches can end as late as 11 p.m.
One thing that has helped with morale is that the captain or acting captain does a post-match report via e-mail to the team. I was on another team that did not do post-match reports, so the only way to learn the result was to wait for the scores to appear in Tennislink. Yuk.
In the report, we try to be as upbeat as possible. The captain reports the overall result and comments on the doings in her own match. Other players then chime in on what they observed, and we each try to finish with lessons learned. If players lost, we want to hear from them too -- they are encouraged to say what strategic changes they made to turn things around and whether anything seemed to help.
And we have a team uniform: purple shirt, black bottoms. We get more compliments on our outfits than our tennis! :) The mixed team wears all black.
In softball we used to all go out to pizza and beer after the game. In ladies soccer we would all go to a local university soccer game together. In tennis, when playing against a city team at a city facility (no liquor) we all headed over to someone's house for cosmos after the match. Most people hang around to see how the match ends (well, unless they put me at singles, and then I don't blame them, I can play forever...). Even if you can only have after match celebrations for weekend matches you should try and schedule a few in there, it really helps the team bond.
I'd keep the emails light, and save the lessons learned/strategy sessions for practices or clinics. Emails, without the tone of voice or facial expressions, can be misintepreted. You don't want to inadvertantly hurt people when philosophizing about what could have been done better. I've noticed losing teams can read all sorts of things into their partners responses...What we've also noticed is if you have clinics, get feedback on the matches to the pro before the clinic, and he or she can bring them up. Since their livelyhood depends on being tactful, they usually can emphasize fixes without pointing fingers.
This year our section is allowing us to name our teams, instead of going with the name of the venue. I'm in charge of amassing suggestions and collecting votes, and it's getting pretty wild.
03-14-2007, 08:25 AM
In my mixed-doubles team, we often go out and eat together, even on non-playing days. And we do things on each other's birthdays. In fact, we've got two teammates we're doing stuff with this w/e, 'cause their birthdays are Sunday and Tuesday. As captain, I usually pay for the birthday girl's/guy's meal, but not always. We've gone to comedy concerts together, and at Christmas time, we all go to Alabama to see these certain lights, etc. So, we try to do things together other than tennnis, which helps build camaraderie (sp?).
03-14-2007, 12:20 PM
We do pretty much the opposite of what CAK describes, and it works very well. When I first started captaining at 2.5, I did post-match summaries via e-mail. After a while I decided to stop, figuring perhaps I was just bothering everybody. The players asked that I start up again, so we do it now. I've found that getting people talking while it is all fresh in their minds is invaluable.
The other thing that has been cool is that some of the more experienced players often have insights on your match. In my last doubles match, I happened to face a 4.0 lady who plays 8.0 mixed with my teammate in another league. I did my post-match report, making the point that I had a hard time slugging it out with her and ran out of ideas for ways to turn it around.
My 4.0 male teammate (the guy who is 23-0) wrote back to the group explaining exactly how you break down the game of his lady partner. He also had an insight I had never considered about how to attack a 3.0 man/4.0 lady pair (to paraphrase, aim your shots between them rather than trying to pass them because there is often confusion between the two about who is stronger, whereas there is no confusion when you aim right at one of them). Absent the post-match e-mail exchange, I'd never have thought to discuss this with him or had the opportunity.
There are certain, erm, protocols, though. You absolutely *must* say something nice about your partner. So far we haven't had anyone say anything inappropriate about the team, their partner or the other team.
Also, I usually reserve any scouting report about the particular players from the other team until the post-match report ("Jane and Sue, you just whipped a doubles pair that was undefeated!") so as not to make my players nervous before the match.
CAK, we can name our teams. I had thought about choosing "Nuthin' But Net," but I chickened out.
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