Building Team Chemistry, Leadership and Culture With In-Season Team Building Activities

What team building activities do you do in-season with your players? Most of us have heard about teams going to exclusive resorts or being involved with some sort of expensive team building program or event. The cost alone will exclude most teams from participating in these types of events.

In the past I have used inexpensive ways to bring the team together and work on building the chemistry, leadership and culture of the team. Here are a few:

  • Habitat for Humanity work day
  • Museum visits
  • NASCAR  shop visits
  • Cookouts
  • Snowmobile parties
  • Sightseeing tours

I asked some of my coaching friends to tell us what they do.

Danny Brooks, assistant coach with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league, had an extensive list of events that included rappelling 80 feet down the side of a building, working with ropes 60 feet up in trees, sport psychology sessions, and paintball. The team also uses ‘work ethic’ and ‘self esteem’ charts.

In our team building we jumped off the building, we climbed up the trees etc. Players want to know you are going to war with them. We are leaders who lead the charge not stand back and yell and give orders. If we ask our players to jump we jump first. Team building is critical in the success of the team both in short term events i.e. world juniors and in an 80 game season.

At the high school level coach Frank Hubley keeps it simple. His players already have full schedules with school and other activities.

With team building we use our off-ice sessions. We break the team into groups of 5-6 and work out in the weight room and run the stairs. We also have team meetings with the players.

At Ohio State assistant coach Jason Lammers talks about a neat team building exercise that the team just did.

We have really tried to focus on our team. Today we did a great one! We made a spider web and each of the guys had to fit through one of the holes in the web. It was great!

We are really trying to educate our leaders with articles, talks, and actions to show them how to be more effective.

Lots of coaches are using creative team building events to improve their teams and players. Most would agree that this can lead to greater individual and team success. It can be a lot of fun too!

Time to Start Your In-Season Training

Hopefully all your goals were met for the pre-season and your team is ready to start the regular season. Now it is time to change your training emphasis for the in-season.

Here is an excerpt from The Hockey Conditioning Handbook chapter on the in-season. Your focus now is on maintenance.

In-Season Training Emphasis:

1)      Aerobic maintenance

2)      Flexibility

3)      Explosive Energy maintenance

Training in-season should be focused on maintenance sessions. This is assuming you have reached the necessary fitness levels prior to the start of the season. If not, you may find there are not enough practice hours in a day or week to do everything that needs to be done. Concentrate on aerobics, flexibility, and explosive energy, regardless of the fitness levels. The game cannot be played well without these.

Following are some suggested programs for in-season conditioning maintenance.
Sample In-Season Training Programs

Aerobics is still the foundation for training. A good practice will usually have an aerobic drill package built in. Cycling and running are two common ways to do aerobic work off ice. Skiing, both water and snow, is excellent for hockey players because it includes upper body work.
Flexibility should be done daily with emphasis on proper warm up/cool down stretching before and after practices and games. Add at least one weekly flexibility training session.
Explosive energy can be done as outlined in the pre-season section. You can also incorporate stair sprints (2 steps at a time), or stair hops (up and down) using one leg only for each 5-10 second work bout.
Maintenance of strength/endurance and high energy can be accomplished by exercising at least the level attained in the pre-season. If a player’s ability to sustain high energy is still weak, players will need to do additional training. Continue to do high energy training 1-2 times per week, depending on game schedule. High energy work should not be done the day prior to a game. Try to do at least one of the two sessions on the ice.

All aspects of conditioning should be done at least to the level attained in pre-season work using programs and drills as outlined in the pre-season section. To save training time, or for variety in training, exercise circuits can be designed to meet all components of conditioning, except flexibility.

Flexibility should be done separately before and after workouts. A complete on ice training circuit is presented below.

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