Formation of sports teams is a dynamic process that goes through certain stages (forming, storming, normalizing and performing). It has long been known that a set of people is not the same as a group, and the group is not the same as the team. Key difference between the group and the team is in the interaction between its members, especially the one that arises in the process of achieving common goals. Members of sports teams are in a relationship of interdependence in an effort to achieve common goals. Therefore, one should support each other and genuinely care for each other both on and off the field. There are many examples that confirm that athletes transfer their extraordinary relationships to other areas of life - they become business partners or lifelong friends.
However, as we have already mentioned, forming team cohesion and harmonious relationships among athletes does not always run smoothly. Sports teams are similar to families, and from time to time there are conflicts, misunderstandings, problems, frustration and tension. This is understandable because players come from different racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic backgrounds, and these deep-rooted cultural elements lead to intercultural misunderstanding.
Since values, beliefs, attitudes and rational roles differ from culture to culture, athletes should learn to be tolerant, to accept, respect, and understand each other. Potential conflicts, mutual misunderstanding and non-acceptance, as well as other communication problems, which often occur in situations of failure, in competitive contexts with high stress. This can be significantly reduced if athletes are better acquainted with each other. Better knowledge contributes to deeper mutual understanding, support and acceptance, the development of the sense of team unity and affiliation, and can be achieved through various group discussions, team building activities, or other coach’s actions.
Open communication is an important step in the prevention and resolution of potential problems among team members. It's harder to respect the needs, feelings, or perspectives of others, when you do not know who they are. It is never too late or too early to move in a positive direction, negatively turning to a positive or wrong to the right. The best time to start is right now.
Suggestions for improving the process of interpersonal communication in sports teams:
Ensure that all members pull to the same side (the team is the first). Also, they need to understand that, as they are open to each other, they have more chances to achieve their goals.
Discuss strategies for improving team harmony, including ways to support and help each other on and off the field.
Listen to others, so they will listen to you too. Put yourself in someone else's skin. Try to understand the perspective of another person.
Learn how to constructively send and receive feedback or criticism. Assess what is the message of what has been said. Avoid taking things personally.
Learn how to tolerate each other better. Accept team members as they are, including their flaws, personal caprices, specificity, little funny habits that make them unique.
Avoid engaging and squandering your team mates. Interpersonal clicks and petty jealousy can quickly destroy team morale.
Do the discussions privately, avoid public confrontations. Work with a person directly.
Accept that all conflicts cannot be solved, but most can be managed more effectively if both parties communicate.