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. 

JMO

Original Post

I don't really think team chemistry comes from team building exercises and team events. Not that it can't, but those always seem a bit forced. I think it comes more from hanging out after practice, going to eat, going to parties and swapping stories the next morning, complaining about a professor together, locker room conversations, etc. I also believe doing work that sucks together brings people closer as well. Hard physical training as you mentioned, lifts, 6am runs, getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere, etc it sucks but you are doing it together so you all have a mutual respect for each other. You can complain about the same things, make fun of the coach together, laugh about the same jokes. 

I don't think team chemistry is something worth asking about on visits. Even if the team has good chemistry, it is all based on personality. There will be a new wave of guys with different personalities each year and it will change the entire dynamic. FWIW there were a few kids on the fall roster who clearly did not click with the guys, many of which transferred after finals. Team chemistry is important, but that is something for the players to figure out more than something that needs to be manufactured by the coaching staff

TPM-

Thanks, good post.   Team chemistry is a major priority for me.

To the degree that team chemistry is coachable:

1. Optimizing team chemistry begins with rules and rituals imposed by the coach. 

(Edit:  Not referring to team-building exercises and events.)

2.  It can be further enhanced by the personality and charisma of the coach. 

Personally, I have a bulldog's dedication to #1. 

Last edited by game7
PABaseball posted:

I don't really think team chemistry comes from team building exercises and team events. Not that it can't, but those always seem a bit forced. I think it comes more from hanging out after practice, going to eat, going to parties and swapping stories the next morning, complaining about a professor together, locker room conversations, etc. I also believe doing work that sucks together brings people closer as well. Hard physical training as you mentioned, lifts, 6am runs, getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere, etc it sucks but you are doing it together so you all have a mutual respect for each other. You can complain about the same things, make fun of the coach together, laugh about the same jokes. 

I don't think team chemistry is something worth asking about on visits. Even if the team has good chemistry, it is all based on personality. There will be a new wave of guys with different personalities each year and it will change the entire dynamic. FWIW there were a few kids on the fall roster who clearly did not click with the guys, many of which transferred after finals. Team chemistry is important, but that is something for the players to figure out more than something that needs to be manufactured by the coaching staff

In context of relationships chemistry is an emotion shared by 2 or more people.

How do you foster positive chemistry between the members of a team. Or how do you teach the members of the team to care for one another so that it translates into success?  

If your son, daughter, grandchild, etc. is being recruited from a bottom feeder, I certainly would want to know what the coaches are doing or not doing.  Or by anyone. You should have an understanding of how any particular coach goes about developing a winning team.

I guess that's why corporations spend bucko bucks to send their managers on retreats so that they can come back and foster those success skills onto their teams, as in the end it means success for the company.

This is not a new concept.  I just never thought about whether it was important or not while recruiting.

 

 

Last edited by TPM

Several years ago I was talking with a sports psychologist. He was introduced to me by a friend/former NBA player. At the (then) age of my son we talked about the balance of training to reach the goal versus pushing and making the journey enjoyable. As a (then) travel coach I asked him about pulling a team together. The discussion went off in the direction of all the team building events he’s had Team USA teams do.

One of my daughter’s friends was a two time member of an Olympic team. They spent a day doing team drills at the Navy SEAL training center. Her response was, “Wow, they do this stuff every day! We all passed out after one day. But the lesson was the only way to get the job done is work as a team in rhythm.

Last edited by RJM

We didn't ask about it, which in retrospect seems odd. My son's youth team had amazing chemistry that the coaches actively promoted by having the kids do service projects together, or they had them run from the practice field to the hitting field while the coaches drove along yelling insults to them. (One of the most effective mound speeches son said he ever heard was this coach telling him "you suck." For graduation, he gave all the players key chains that said "don't suck." Insults between coaches and players went both ways and were part of the chemistry.)

I don't know how the chemistry is on the college team. He doesn't talk about it, but to my mind it would be harder to build because it seems really like two teams wearing the same uniforms — pitchers and everybody else.

But i wonder if "team chemistry" can also be phrased as knowing that you are playing for something bigger than yourself. Maybe it's for your team, maybe it's for your coaches, maybe it's for the institution. That I think son's school does well. Kids are often encouraged to visit elementary schools to read to students or to visit the children's hospital to spend time with patients. On son's first travel day he texted me that he was surprised when some Iowa fans stopped him in the airport and had their picture taken with him — even though he had never yet played a game, to them he was one of THEIR players. I think that gave him and some of his teammates a sense of unity that might also be called chemistry.

Now I wish we had asked. I'm curious about what answers we would have gotten.

I don't think you can specifically ask about team chemistry on visits, but you can definitely get a certain feel for it.  On overnights, my son definitely liked "the guys" at some schools more than others.  Obviously it was somewhat random who he stayed with, but he could get a sense of the things PABaseball says about hanging out, as well as their attitude at practices and outside of practices, and what they thought about the coaches.  All of that is definitely part of chemistry.

At son's high school, they did a multi-week exercise in mental toughness in the pre-season (someone's dad was connected to someone in psychology).  They were a pretty tight group anyway, but I think having to talk about that sort of thing with each other (sometimes with no adults in the room) did help them as a group, they seemed to have good team chemistry.

TPM posted:
PABaseball posted:

I don't really think team chemistry comes from team building exercises and team events. Not that it can't, but those always seem a bit forced. I think it comes more from hanging out after practice, going to eat, going to parties and swapping stories the next morning, complaining about a professor together, locker room conversations, etc. I also believe doing work that sucks together brings people closer as well. Hard physical training as you mentioned, lifts, 6am runs, getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere, etc it sucks but you are doing it together so you all have a mutual respect for each other. You can complain about the same things, make fun of the coach together, laugh about the same jokes. 

I don't think team chemistry is something worth asking about on visits. Even if the team has good chemistry, it is all based on personality. There will be a new wave of guys with different personalities each year and it will change the entire dynamic. FWIW there were a few kids on the fall roster who clearly did not click with the guys, many of which transferred after finals. Team chemistry is important, but that is something for the players to figure out more than something that needs to be manufactured by the coaching staff

In context of relationships chemistry is an emotion shared by 2 or more people.

How do you foster positive chemistry between the members of a team. Or how do you teach the members of the team to care for one another so that it translates into success?  

If your son, daughter, grandchild, etc. is being recruited from a bottom feeder, I certainly would want to know what the coaches are doing or not doing.  Or by anyone. You should have an understanding of how any particular coach goes about developing a winning team.

I guess that's why corporations spend bucko bucks to send their managers on retreats so that they can come back and foster those success skills onto their teams, as in the end it means success for the company.

This is not a new concept.  I just never thought about whether it was important or not while recruiting.

 

 

In fairness, you can’t really compare a P5 team like Clemson to “bottom feeders” when talking about chemistry. There is a inherent advantage  immediately for a Clemson-type program in the fact that the program is fully funded and wants for nothing when it comes to uniforms, equipment, or funding for anything they need. A history of success and complete support of the institution create a kind of self licking ice cream cone, in that so many high caliber players knock on the door, the coaching staff can be selective when letting them in. The coaches are responsible for recruiting guys who fit the culture of their team.

Beyond that, chemistry is really up to team leadership. Upperclassmen set the tone and newcomers cue off that. It perpetuates year after year. Doing fun team building stuff doesn’t hurt, but that is the icing on the cake in my opinion. Although I sometimes disagree with PABaseball, it is those external events like breaking bread with your teammates, spending time together outside the game and practice, that makes those bonds strong.

Last edited by collegebaseballrecruitingguide

I agree with pretty much all of the above.  

Talent wins games. Team chemistry (playing for each other/trusting each other/brotherhood) wins championships. 

When my son was a freshman, there was a strong leadership core that showed the new guys what was acceptable/not acceptable on and off the field. Those guys handled the locker room so no small potatoes ever got back to the coach. 

Now that he’s a senior, the leadership council is responsible for doing the same. The best teams self police!

The high school head coach has also done a great job of creating a culture of family. They spend a ton of time off the field together and are a close knit group. Hopefully, that will pay of in May. 

Fair point made, but my point was that not every team comes from a P5 program, one of the reasons why it's important to understand the goals and objectives for the team and how that's achieved. How do you get guys to buy in? You don't have to be a fully funded program to achieve that goal. And yes, as I have always said, coaches recruit the best players that are a good fit for their program. 

Team leadership doesn't just happen. It starts at the top.  As stated above team chemistry begins with the coach's rules, rituals and expectations. Through team building skills, and then with the team choosing good captains, they can police themselves. But sometimes animosity develops. If the team hasn't been schooled in standing as one, success isn't going happen. 

No harm no foul in asking how coaches promote team chemistry.

Last edited by TPM

Team chemistry is often the factor that determines the success (or lack thereof) of a season. It is almost always the factor that determines if the season is an enjoyable experience for the players. So it is absolutely something to look at very closely. I think it’s fine to ask coaches what they do to foster it. But what I did during my kid’s recent recruitment was talk to players in the program. It helped that I knew them but players tend to tell the truth anyway. If you have been around enough teams you can sometimes pick up a vibe just by observing. Another great source for that kind of information are area MLB scouts. They interact with both coaches and players and they know where players are and aren’t happy. Whenever I talk to a scout I always ask him what College programs have impressed him lately and which haven’t. You would be surprised what I have been told. 

TPM posted:

Fair point made, but my point was that not every team comes from a P5 program, one of the reasons why it's important to understand the goals and objectives for the team and how that's achieved. How do you get guys to buy in? You don't have to be a fully funded program to achieve that goal. And yes, as I have always said, coaches recruit the best players that are a good fit for their program. 

Team leadership doesn't just happen. It starts at the top.  As stated above team chemistry begins with the coach's rules, rituals and expectations. Through team building skills, and then with the team choosing good captains, they can police themselves. But sometimes animosity develops. If the team hasn't been schooled in standing as one, success isn't going happen. 

No harm no foul in asking how coaches promote team chemistry.

I agree, no harm in posting the question. I think success breeds chemistry, chemistry breeds success. Which comes first? Chicken or egg?

I really think that a good coach lays the foundation. They know when they recruit kids which ones have the kind of character to become a team leader. My sons head coach (D1) asks his team captain for his input on guys during the fall. Who has shown good chemistry with teammates, etc. The team leaders, if they have the best interest of the team as a priority, really have a lot of responsibility for the team chemistry. I know on my son’s team, they are very tight and I think it will show this spring. 

We all agree that it starts with good players but different coaching philosophies work. 

The Patriots are all business and not a ton of fun by several accounts. Winning is fun to them.

Pete Carroll approach is family and positivity. Motivational quotes all throughout the building, music blasting in practice, etc. He’s running around like a kid at practice like a teenager.

Two successful college coaches. One is a all about family and players love him but he holds players accountable. Former players always come back.

The other is all business, players don’t really like him so the form a bond and play for each other and not the coach. Many don’t really go back on the offseason. 

I think team chemistry can be achieved in different ways but it does matter especially in tough times. 

Last edited by hshuler

Team chemistry is important but when judging this consider that it is much easier to have good team chemistry when you win than if you lose all the time. Losing kills team chemistry because it sucks to lose and also a bench player is much more likely to support a winning team while if the team loses he will think "we are getting killed, my teammates suck and I don't even play" and thus he will be quite pissed about sitting while in a winning team at least he sees some sense on sitting because it is for something and not just watching your teammates getting killed.

Also among the guys who play at some point there will be blaming even though you try to avoid that. You try to support your teammate but if your pitcher walks 3 in a row it is hard to stay alert. And vice versa a pitcher will be pissed if he executes and the defense doesn't make routine play.

I'm not downplaying the importance of culture and learning to deal with failure and support each other, it certainly plays a big role but sometimes the great chemistry team is just a talented team having fun winning and the bad  chemistry team is a not so talented team getting killed all the time and hating it.

Ideally a team can deal with both but talent definitely plays a role. I think some people overlook that. Beat reporters write about how the clubhouse is a mess in a losing team in mlb and that likely is true but are they losing because of team chemistry or is team chemistry bad due to losing? Probably a bit of both.

As a coach teach culture and dealing with failure but sometimes the best recipe for chemistry is being good at baseball.

 

 

Last edited by Dominik85
collegebaseballrecruitingguide posted:

As long as that happy, buddy-buddy coach has control and holds players accountable I am all for it. My son’s coach can motivate anyone, but isn’t exactly a warm guy. His assistants have great rapport with the players and the team is all in, which the s the kind of chemistry I like. 

All coaches in my examples above have won championships except the high school coach. Hopefully, that changes this year.

Again, the common thread in all of the scenarios is good players, good leadership and winning culture.  

@Dom - I think we’ve all seen examples of talented teams who don’t/can’t win because the locker room/clubhouse is a mess. That’s why GMs always try to bring in a good veteran presence in the locker room/clubhouse to help with chemistry and culture. 

There’s a great documentary about Dave “The Cobra” Parker that periodically airs in MLB Network and players (Barry Larkin, Gary Sheffield, Eric Davis) talk about how he was a great mentor and uniter of teammates. He was always the locker room police and once told a young Barry Larkin if you don’t start playing with a sense of urgency there would be a physical altercation between the two of them. 🤣

Last edited by hshuler

TPM...I know you don’t care much for Gary Gilmore and Coastal Carolina, but go back and look at Coastal’s run to the 2016 title...all you will hear is those players talking about getting there for coach Gilmore! How he got a group of 25 18-21 in that zone I don’t know for sure, but that team had way good team chemistry! They pulled as one, had one goal that was as big as it gets, and they got there together. I think every team as each new class comes in has new chemistry and it’s the coach’s job to find out how to promote that chemistry every year. Just my two cents

2019Lefty21 posted:

TPM...I know you don’t care much for Gary Gilmore and Coastal Carolina, but go back and look at Coastal’s run to the 2016 title...all you will hear is those players talking about getting there for coach Gilmore! How he got a group of 25 18-21 in that zone I don’t know for sure, but that team had way good team chemistry! They pulled as one, had one goal that was as big as it gets, and they got there together. I think every team as each new class comes in has new chemistry and it’s the coach’s job to find out how to promote that chemistry every year. Just my two cents

Here is my point, what made the players " get there"? Did they just sit around and talk about it or what did Coach Gilmore do to promote that  bond, chemistry and pull together as one.

I was just wondering if anyone took notice or was curious as to how coaches recruiting their sons continue to have a winning program which  doesnt necessary mean you go to Omaha every year. 

One successful  coach who spoke at the ABCA convention in Nashville went over it step by step.  So it just doesn't happen. Coaches have plans and of course it's a given they use their veteran players but is that it? Is 6am team lifts it, is going bowling  together on Saturday nights it?  Is making fun of coaches it?  IMO there are so many things coaches have to do and it's not always when you win. What does your sons coach do when the team goes on a losing streak?

I was just wondering  if these things as a recruit ,  might be important in the recruiting process.  

BTW, on recruiting trips, players are often coached on what to say  to certain recruits and also to tell their coaches why or why not that guy should or shouldnt be given an opportunity.  So take that stuff with a grain of salt.  

Last edited by TPM
collegebaseballrecruitingguide posted:

You attended ABCA conference????

No did you?  Heard it from a friend! 

Last edited by TPM

It has to start with the coach if a program has great chemistry year in and year out. Players come and go, but the constant is the coach. (assuming he is there for awhile) 

Quality coaches build strong rapport with their players, which in turn develops Sr leaders, who then build up the under clansmen and so on. We're not talking fully funded P5 programs, you will find great chemistry programs throughout the college baseball spectrum, from mid level D1's to low level D3's.

Prospective recruits need to look for this during practices during visits, and parents can get some indication by meeting with the coach. In the end part of our decision was whether we were comfortable having our son play for a man for four years and 2,500 miles away. He was a class act and developed great young men who in turn built a program with outstanding chemistry, which in turn developed into one of the top programs in their division. It happens year in and year out because of the coach. 

This is a good subject and should be helpful to players and parents going through the recruiting process. Tight highly motivated teams don't just come from high visibility highly funded programs IMO. 

Last edited by BOF

I believe it's important. I also think the team activities help with guys learning about each other's mental toughness, heart and communication. That being said, no amount of chemistry can soley bind a team together who aren't committed to being the best team, together. Things get fragmented so quickly when you have big personalities along with the quiet guys and the minority of guys who don't follow the rules and do not get adequately punished. THAT divides the locker room for sure. 

Shoveit4Ks posted:

I believe it's important. I also think the team activities help with guys learning about each other's mental toughness, heart and communication. That being said, no amount of chemistry can soley bind a team together who aren't committed to being the best team, together. Things get fragmented so quickly when you have big personalities along with the quiet guys and the minority of guys who don't follow the rules and do not get adequately punished. THAT divides the locker room for sure. 

It's early to establish good chemistry and I got your back attitude for the team, early.

There may be times during the season when hitters aren't hitting, or pitchers are getting people out. Happens a lot to most teams (even those fully funded P5 programs! Team needs to come together and it's not  and shouldn't be all on the team leaders.

JMO

I'm a huge believer in team chemistry overcoming just about anything.  I've read a couple examples here where people have mentioned that it (leadership, roles and responsibilities) starts with the coach.   What if I was to tell you about a team that was perennially a .500 team year over year (never won their conference) and had their HC/Hitting Coach essentially take family leave only to see his team thrive, blossom and win their conference plus go to NCAAs?  I saw it, and was amazed by it.   This team was led by its players and it caught fire at the right time.   Of course the Coach saw what was going on, and jumped on the bandwagon at the conference championship.   He didn't mess with the formula.   Sometimes teams and people just have that chemistry, and it is incredible to watch.

Shoveit4Ks posted:

I believe it's important. I also think the team activities help with guys learning about each other's mental toughness, heart and communication. That being said, no amount of chemistry can soley bind a team together who aren't committed to being the best team, together. Things get fragmented so quickly when you have big personalities along with the quiet guys and the minority of guys who don't follow the rules and do not get adequately punished. THAT divides the locker room for sure. 

Agreed but I will add that leaders can't always be developed.  I'm somewhat convinced you have or you don't.  One of the worst things for team unity is the ones who think I'm a senior so I get to run the show when they have not earned the respect of the team.  I think you see a difference in the different levels from travel to high school to college to the pros.  One of the key ingredients in team chemistry is the earned right to lead.  Some earn the right but don't want it and others want it but haven't earned it.  I think success does somewhat have to be there for team chemistry to be there at some level.  It is hard to have any team chemistry if you are not winning or capable of winning.  I don't think you have to win championships but you have to win.  Losing consistently is one of the greatest deterrents to team chemistry.  Right there with coaches who do not treat their players equally.  Obvious favorites, especially those who are bad apples is a great deterrent to team chemistry.  I think coaches can move teams toward it but you can't force it.  I have seen some teams that just never found it because of a few bad apples in the locker room.

What comes first, chicken or egg?  Chemistry or winning?

Interesting stuff, but it doesn't help me coach.

I'm only interested in team chemistry  "to the degree that team chemistry is coachable."

PITCHINGFAN identified the greatest deterrent to team chemistry: "coaches who do not treat their players equally."  

bacdorslider posted:

https://whatdriveswinning.com/join-coaching-lab/

The first thing in my mind that each individual needs to learn to create a successful team chemistry  is personal accountability.

Agreed, personal accountability is crucial in sports.

But with regard to team chemistry, I'm big on coach accountability.  Pay relentless attention to details that affect team chemistry.  When chemistry is lacking, point with your thumb, not with your finger.

 

Last edited by game7

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