Youth Sports Team Bonding Activities

Sports team bonding - kids smiling
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Try these team-bonding activities before or after practices, during other downtimes, and on team trips. After all, part of being a good sport is being a good team member—and both are traits that we hope our kids will gain from playing team sports.

As a parent coach or volunteer, you can help your team grow closer with bonding activities like these. Ideally, you should limit participation to team members and chaperones (at least most of the time). Having other parents and siblings along changes the dynamic and doesn't help the team develop tight bonds.

Team Bonding Outings

Take team members to see sporting events in their chosen sport, at the high school, college, or semi-pro level (since those are more affordable than professional events). If you let the team know you're coming, you can likely arrange for group-rate tickets, fun promotional items, or even meetings with players.

Similarly, check out training centers and halls of fame or museums related to your team's sport. They make for inspirational tours. It's also fun to branch out into other kinds of active play venues as a team bonding activity: sports parks with miniature golf, batting cages, and laser tag; bowling alleys; roller rinks; nature centers; water parks; and so on.

Classic Team-Building Games

Have you ever participated in team-building activities at work, church, or a volunteer organization? Kids can try, and enjoy, some of these same activities designed to boost unity and communication.

For example, to play a game called the Human Knot:

  1. Have teammates stand in a tight circle.
  2. Ask each one to grab two other people's hands—anyone except neighbors to their immediate left and right.
  3. When everyone's holding on, have them untangle the knot without letting go of each other.

Other games you might try: Pass the Orange, any relay race, or icebreakers.

Travel Time

Sharing a bus, van, car, or even plane ride can be a great bonding experience for teams, especially if electronics don't interfere. While watching movies together is fun (and kids will want to be playing with their phones and iPods), having a sing-along or playing travel games together is even better for team-building.

Craft Projects

There's just something about scissors and glue. Put teammates to work on creating personalized gear, team-spirit posters, a banner for their locker room, and so on. My daughter's skating team used beads to make hanging ID tags for their water bottles, and they create signs to hang on the windows of their bus when they travel.

Shared Meals

They're a necessity on road trips and a fun celebration when you're at home. Gathering your team for a group lunch or dinner gives teammates a social outlet, whether you're at a restaurant or sharing a potluck at someone's home or picnic at a team facility.

If you are at a restaurant, it's nice to have a party room or other private space so kids can roam about and interact more freely without disturbing other diners.

Team Bonding Service Projects

Add community service to team bonding for an even bigger benefit for all involved. Even young kids can help with projects: They can help man a booth at an activity fair to tell others about their sport, for example, or sort donations for an equipment swap. Pre-teens and teens might help at a tournament for younger players, or they could join in on efforts to clean, maintain, or spruce up the sports field or facility they use.

By Catherine Holecko
Catherine Holecko is an experienced freelance writer and editor who specializes in pregnancy, parenting, health and fitness.