Team Chemistry

I define team chemistry as simply effective teamwork. Effective teamwork requires good team chemistry. Before I get into this, you should know that team chemistry is not the same as team cohesion, although they are similar. A team with high cohesion doesn't always have great chemistry. A team with great chemistry doesn't always have high cohesion, although they usually do. Team cohesion refers to the togetherness of a team, in their striving towards shared goals and also in their love for each other. Team chemistry just refers to effective teamwork.

 Teammates gain chemistry with each other mainly from experience. When you've played with the same players for many years in a row, you'll gain chemistry with these players. You'll learn the ins and outs of not only your teammates' games but also their personalities. When you know these things, it makes it easier to work together and play better. For instance, when you know the strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies of your teammates, you will instinctively make the right decisions in games. You'll pass to your teammate at just the right time and place. You'll anticipate your teammates moves before they make them. On the court, you'll play in unison with your teammates. You'll play very smoothly with very little errors caused by miscommunication.

Chemistry between players isn't just created from experience. Sometimes two players may naturally have chemistry with each other because their playing styles and personalities mesh well together from the start.

Just as important as this is the familiarity with personalities that chemistry gives you. When you have great chemistry with a teammate, you know what makes them click. You know how to motivate them. You know how to calm them down. You know how communicate well with them. All of this improves teamwork on the court and on the practice court/field.

Teammates with great chemistry are usually close with each other off the court/field. They are friends and hang out with each other. This doesn't always translate to effective teamwork and performance on the court/field, but many times it does. This is because it helps teammates get familiar with each other's personalities.

Team chemistry isn't just between players. Team chemistry also exists between players and coaches and between coaching staff members. When a player has been coached by the same coach for many years, their chemistry helps them work together.

Team chemistry is often undervalued in sports. So many teams are obsessed with maximizing their talent. To do this, they often have to trade players, cut players, and draft/recruit new ones. However, when they do this, they are are constantly erasing and redoing team chemistry. How many times have you seen a team acquire great talent but they don't reach their expectations during their first year or two together? This is mainly because their team chemistry was low. On paper, a team may look good, but with low chemistry, the players are not going to work well together.

On the other hand, teams that have less talent, but have great chemistry often overachieve. I'm not saying chemistry is more important than talent. They are both important. It is when teams have both talent and chemistry that championships are won.

So how can you improve team chemistry? The first thing you should do is to commit to each other for the long term. Time and experience itself will improve team chemistry naturally. But if you want to speed up the process, there's things you can do. You can take the time and effort to get to know your teammates and coaches more personally. You can also study each other's film and discuss how you like to play with each other. As a coach or athlete, make team chemistry a priority this season.