I am a huge believer that team chemistry wins games. The dynamics are different for every team, and definetly change from year to year as players come and go. It's not always about the skills of the players, but what does the coaching staff do to achieve a tight knit group of guys who will go to war for each other. That's evident every year when an unexpected team makes the playoffs and ends up their conference champs or ends up in Omaha. This should apply to all divisions in college baseball.
The job of the coaches is to foster an atmosphere that encourages commitment, brotherhood, trust and honesty within the group. In other words, there is no I in team. The best teams that son has ever played on, weren't always the ones with the most talent, but the ones where the teammates bonded successfully under the coaching staff.
During the recruitment process, it never occurred to us to ask any coach what they did to develop a strong team chemistry to foster a winning culture. FWIW, this concept isnt always found in professional baseball.
I am wondering how important is this to those of you whose sons are going though the process, do you ever think about it, or just take it for granted those things are taken care of by the current coaching staff?
This also could apply on all levels, not just in college. Little league, travel ball, junior high school, all sports. For girls as well as boys.
This fall I saw a video of one program that had a survival day obviously for team building. The team was put into groups and dropped off in the middle of no where, with some tools, with specific goals to accomplish. It was AWESOME. This same program also when traveling, incorporates special activities before the weekend games. For example, if you are playing Boston College, you go to Red Sox game, Louisville, you go to tour Louisville Slugger factory.
Yes all of these activities cost money and yes it is Clemson, but there are so many other creative things available for smaller programs on smaller budgets. It's really about how involved is the athletic department in their programs and are they willing to show commitment to their athletes, in the classroom as well as on the field. Is your sons academic advisor checking in on them everyday? Does he or she work together with coaches? You would be surprised not all do ( got a little carried away but it all goes together).
Many programs wind down fall practice with physical challenges, where teams work in groups, another great bonding activity. FAU calls theirs the Iron Owl. Clemson calls it the Omaha Challenge. Does your son's team have such an activity? If this isn't important to him, it should be. Have you asked on your recruiting trips?
Do you ask if your team has a sports psychologist that talks about stress management during season?
All of these things are important in developing success not just on the field as well as a closeness within the team.
Some people say it's not all about winning. I say it is. Winning fosters healthy attitudes, success in other areas of life, and successful relationships.