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Learning How To Play In A Team

We mastered some of the more basic sporting skills earlier this month in the 'How To Catch' and 'How To Hit' guides.

Now it's time to get our teeth into something I little more challenging: team work!

From birth to pre-school parent praise is 100% focused on individual achievement. Sitting, crawling, walking, self-feeding, potty-training - these are all solo activities where the accomplishment of one child is lauded as if worth of a Nobel Prize.

Little wonder then that by the time children hit the sociable ages of 3 and 4, working as a team to achieve a common goal is an alien concept.

Here we take look at the skills needed to be a successful team player, and how you can help your child develop them. You don't need any fancy sporting equipment, just the play equipment you have to hand in your own back garden.

Teamwork: Why Bother?

Team games offer far more benefits than the simple thrill of a win. By regularly participating in team activities, children: - learn how to communicate with others - develop self-esteem through their contribution - develop trust in others - learn how to share and co-operate.

Team activities are an integral part of the school experience, so being able to play in a team will help create positive experiences for your child.

Many children also find it beneficial to play in a team outside of school, facilitating the development of new friendships.

The Art Of Teaching Teamwork

Before you bravely embark on any of these team building activities, here are a few tips to help you on your way.

1. Like a good Scout or Girl Guide, you must always be prepared. Before even suggesting an activity, consider how well the task fits with the children who will be playing, and make sure you have all the equipment needed to hand. Nothing sucks the fun out of playtime like wasting ten minutes raiding the garage for a ball, or having a child sulk on the sidelines because the game is too complicated for them to take part.

2. Pick your battles. If the purpose of the game is to teach teamwork, focus on this rather than improving your child's sporting prowess or knoweldge of complex rules. There will be plenty of time to teach those skills later.

3. Talk about the game later. Draw attention to the times you noticed teamwork skills to help you child understand what playing in a team is all about.

1. Identifying Strengths

The most effective teams make best use of the individual talents of team members, so it's important children are able to recognize their own talents and the abilities demonstrated by others.

A fun way to work on this skill is to set up an obstacle course in the back garden. There should be different challenges like kicking a football up the slide, or throwing a bean bag onto the top of the climbing frame. Challenge the children to figure out who will be best at each task. One person leaves the base at a time, completes their task, then returns to the base to tag a team mate relay-style.

2. Team Communication

This is a fun game to play in the Summer. Put the children into pairs and provide each pair with an empty bucket, and a bucket filled with water. One child climbs to the top of the climbing frame and must pour the water into the bucket held by the other child. However one child must be blinded (you decide which) can is guided by the directions of their team mate.

3. Trusting Team Mates

Create an obstacle course. The children hold hands and complete the obstacle course as one unit. The twist is that all but the lead child is blindfolded, so the rest of the team rely completely on their leader.

What Next?

You can get more tips and tricks in the rest of our sporting skills series.

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