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Action steps sustain team building strategies

This is an excerpt from Sport Psych Handbook, The by Shane Murphy.

Another key step in team-building strategies is motivating team members to take specific action steps that will sustain the process. Neither individual nor group behaviors are easily changed. Establishing a commitment to take concrete steps to improve individual and team functioning is crucial to this process. As described in our discussion of cohesiveness, having team members define their values and clarify their roles is important; when sources of misunderstanding, miscommunication, and interpersonal conflict are uncovered early, they can be the focus of corrective plans.

Several ways to help teams develop action plans follow.

  • Open discussion and commitment. We often focus a discussion on individual action plans for improvement and how they relate to the team goals. In addition, a “buy-in,” or commitment, to the team-focused action plan helps ensure follow-through. When team members attempt to clarify differences rather than merely make agreements of convenience, we say there is buy-in. Concrete language shifts from saying “but” to “and” often signify consensus.
  • Team goals. Team goals are those attributes that were identified as priorities in earlier discussions and assessments. For example, the goal of the basketball-team scenario with James as described on the following page could be to improve teammate communication by having meetings and encouraging each athlete to speak up about what is going well and what needs to improve. In this way, issues related to slumping performance can be discussed in a solution-oriented format. Discussion of individual goals can include brainstorming for solutions and an attempt to understand the role of individual efforts in the context of team communication and coordinated play. Team discussions can also address better coordination of individual skills and sharing of responsibilities to avoid overreliance on one or two “star” players.
  • Follow-up and feedback. It takes time for new behavioral patterns to become habits, and it takes time and discussions for athletes to fine-tune their efforts. Follow-up sessions provide an opportunity to reinforce and elaborate on successful efforts and instruct the group on those that did not work out as planned.


This is an excerpt from The Sport Psych Handbook.