Football, Where Team Unity Matters Most
A football team is a well-oiled machine. On any given play, there are 11 people on the field, and each of them have to work in tandem to find success. Offensive linemen have to block in order to protect the back field and open up holes for running backs, receivers have to run their routes to get open and to fool the defense, runners have to be ready for the handoff and hit the hole just right to break through the first line, and the quarterback has to know where everyone is, where they’re going to be, and make sure to get the ball to the right person. If one piece of the puzzle doesn’t go smoothly, the entire play can be a bust resulting, at best, in the loss of a down, or at worse, in a turnover.
With so much riding on every player doing their jobs as perfectly as possible, team unity is one of the most important aspects of any football organization. Coaches have had to come up with a number of different ways to influence team-building. Get togethers, BBQ’s and team outings are common tactics. But these aren’t the only options.
Hazing Is Out
Once a common practice within team sports, hazing has long been considered a kind of unofficial team building activity. Players, it was thought, needed to be broken down in order to be built back up in the perfect team mold. There was a sense of camaraderie built up amongst players at the knowledge that everyone had endured the same sort of torture.
Today, however, that line of thinking is on the way out. Instead of being viewed as a team building experience, most hazing practices are being seen as crimes punishable by law. In the Pros, the act of hazing might be more of a laugh than something physically harmful to the players, but the tradition is still falling out of favor.
If football teams went to a model of team building that featured football coins instead of hazing, they’d make the news for all the right reasons.
Start a New Football Challenge Coin Tradition
The manner in which custom challenge coins could be used in football team building isn’t so far off from the manner in which the challenge coin is used in the military. When a soldier accomplishes a milestone or completes a particular mission, they earn a challenge coin from their commanding officer. Likewise, football challenge coins could be issued in honor and recognition of impressive feats on the field.
Each football team has captains — on the field players who are singled out as leaders of the team. They’re often the go between individuals for players and coaches. While being made a captain is reason in and of itself to be granted a challenge coin, it’s also a position from which coins could be issued. In the spirit of building team unity, a challenge coin being granted by a team captain instead of one of the coaches is a gesture that would go a long way.
The events related to a player earning a custom challenge coin on a football team are varied. Games may take place once a week, but the bulk of the work done by teammates happens during practices and team meetings. In these moments, which take place throughout the entire week between games and all during the off season, there’s always an opportunity for a player to distinguish themselves.
In addition to the honor of being presented with a challenge coin, a team having custom coins leads to all kinds of traditions and games springing up around the coins. Players who have yet to earn a coin could be placed on scut duty (collecting player equipment before and after practices, making lunch runs for the team) for the week. Players with more coins, or who most recently were granted a coin, could be allowed to design a play to be used in the upcoming game. The opportunities are endless.
Tackle a New Team Objective this Season
Team building is an ongoing effort for all sports organizations. Teams change as players leave and new players join. Morale waxes and wanes depending on the outcome of games, and no team can avoid the process of heaping an undue amount of blame on one player for a negative outcome.
With a new football season on the horizon, it’s a given that coaches across the country are going to be spending a lot of time thinking of new and innovative ways to increase team unity. While everyone else is busy with new exercise drills, trust falls and human knots, you could be starting a new trend in a longstanding issue.