Friday, September 26, 2014

Lessons for team work from observing kids soccer teams

It is one thing to watch adult sports like the world cup soccer; it is totally another thing to learn from observing the kids learn and play soccer. Having not played soccer myself, my eyes were wide open to observe and learn.

Over the past five years, I had the pleasure of watching my daughter participate in local youth soccer program. She started in her kinder garden days and has progressively developed her skills. I admire her passion and dedication; she also loves playing with her team a lot. Besides her team's work, I get to observe the girls from many teams who compete with my daughter's team on a weekly basis during the Fall season. Hats off to my daughter and her team for learning and growing their skills.

It is intriguing to observe that during the progression has followed these many steps:

  1. Each with her own soccer ball and goal post: Each kid started with her own soccer ball and a goal post to kick the ball into. It is a luxury when there is no defense against the kid playing solo. Still in the early days (during kindergarten) the kids miss a lot of the attempts to convert the kick into goals.
  2. Each with her own soccer ball, but shared goal post: Next the kids moved to a single shared goal post, but each one had their own soccer ball to play with. Here slowly the contention showed up for who can kick into the goal post at a given time. The kids adjusted to take turns to kick the ball using time division multiplexing :)
  3. Shared soccer ball and shared goal post: Third the kids got to play together and shared a single soccer ball and soccer post. Initially the kids monopolized the ball - meaning whichever kid got the soccer ball, will run with it all the way to the goal by herself. Sharing was an afterthought. Certainly the kids tire themselves out and the other kids from the same team may steal the ball to hit at the goal post. Progressively they learned to pass the ball to each other to get the goals. Individuality starts giving room for more Sharing.
  4. Shared soccer ball, shared goal post, and opposition: Even the team that had passes mastered in games are challenged when they face the defenses from opposing team. Chaos sets in the early days when the girls had tough time knowing to both share the ball and mark the opponent to avoid losing the possession of the ball. Slowly the team evolves ways to work through this problem. They learn standard techniques (square pass - pass the ball sideways to a partner) to make forward progress. And they learn / share tips on how to break through the defenses.

It is fascinating to observe how the individual progresses to be a productive team member. The same observations from soccer team are applicable for teamwork in many areas.

In many areas we bring ourselves as capable and competent individuals. Still it is important for us to learn what is the shared ball and what is the single goal post we are working towards. We need to know the opposition and challenges we face. We need to evolve shared understanding and working process for becoming the team that knows to pass the ball and work towards winning more goals. Some collection of people will become strong teams together provided they have mastered the art of teamwork before and nurture open and steady communication. Other collection of people may take long time if there is lack of clarity on the single goal or if they are still developing the skills for team work. Either way there is hope for folks to form strong teams, provided they set their mind (Attitude) for the same.

As mentioned in my prior post and written earlier in my Quora post, German team displayed fantastic team work and won spectacularly big at the world cup soccer event. Every weekend when I drive my daughter around for the soccer games I remind myself about the positive impact of the game on her growth to be a better team player. I also treasure the observations from watching  her soccer games and apply it at work as needed.

No comments:

Post a Comment