What kids’ soccer matches teach us about teamwork

If you’ve ever watched a kids’ soccer match, it’s understandable if you found it hard to follow.

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As soon as the ball comes into play, all the little legs rush towards it in a clumsy wolf pack, leaving every other part of the field exposed. There’s always the kid who loses his or her configuration and accidentally scores a goal for the other team only to have the ecstatic excitement shatter into red-faced embarrassment. And no matter how loud the frantic coach on the sideline shouts, the young team just can’t seem to comprehend what “stay in your position” means.

Shamefully, as adults, we’re often not much better. Whether it’s in a sports team or a workplace, we often forget to step back and look at the bigger picture.

One of the most important things in team sports in to communicate. Kirstyn Haywood, a team-building expert from People for Success, recently said: “In a team, it’s essential to listen to those around you.” “It’s impossible to organise all the elements in a team when everyone is doing their own thing”, Haywood said.

She’s right. Every person in a team has something different to offer and the best way for all the pieces to complement each other is by speaking and listening to one another.

By placing teammates in different parts of the field, each gains a different vantage point that can be shared with the others. Often, it’s the defending back line who is best positioned to tell the striker when the opposition is creeping up

When we are connected, we can work seamlessly in sync like a well-oiled machine. When we see the whole field, we can create and implement the most effective strategy.

For any team, growth comes from training and setting goals. Getting your team together regularly to train and practice executing well-planned tactics is a great way to build teamwork. In addition, fostering an environment of ambition, determination and clear goal setting is essential for motivating your team. When they can visualise success, they can reach it.

A little disorganisation is fine when it’s a bunch of five-year-olds running around in the mud on a Sunday afternoon. But when the stakes are higher and the trophy is waiting to be won, actively promoting teamwork and solid communication is the best way to win the match.

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