Building Bonds

Ella Jones, Mallory Kuppe, and Wes Walters

Paly Girls Basketball on a ziplining excursion. Pictured above Annie Niethammer (‘19), Grace Thayer (‘20), and Ellie Jeffries (‘19). Photo courtesy of Ellie Jeffies.

When it comes to building a team, team bonding is essential for a strong foundation and competitive play. Nothing is harder than playing a sport with complete strangers, especially if there is little to no communication or chemistry. When a team gets to know each other, their bond is reflected  in the team’s overall performance. The better players know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, the better they can adapt in a game situation. Bonding events encourage teams to develop trust, communicate and increases stress management skills. Teams at all levels are utilizing team bonding experiences to improve their team’s performance.

One Paly team that is more committed to team bonding than most is girl’s basketball. For far away games, the girls have a team overnight before game day. Last year, this excursion included doing a ropes obstacle course as a team.

“Team bonding trips are what really bring teams together,” point-guard Carly Martin (‘21) said. “We really get to know each other better which allows us to play as a cohesive team. My favorite part of the team bonding overnight is when we play right fun games right before we go to bed.”

Girls basketball’s head coach Scott Peters has seen the effects of team bonding on his team.

“I think team bonding is huge,” Peters said. “It really helps us to get through hard times.”

The coach’s support for bonding is echoed by the team and their traditions.

Paly volleyball goes to the Menlo Park Stacks restaurant at the beginning of every season for team bonding. This year, the girls included laser tag as an activity down at the San Carlos Laser Quest. Ever since 2010, the team has  had a “rage” before each game. This rage consists of the team blasting music and dancing in the last couple of minutes before game time.

“It’s always cool to get to know your teammates better,” middle blocker Ashlyn Callan (‘19) said. “It really helps us prepare for games and brings us together to have more of a team mentality.”

The value in team bonding is appreciated by Dean Casey (‘20), a pitcher on Paly’s baseball team. Due to team dinners post games and team lunches, the team is able to develop comfort and confidence between the players.

“It affects how we play because it builds trust between each of the players,” Casey said. “For example if I’m close with my infielders then I probably won’t be annoyed or frustrated if they make an error behind me.” In strengthening relationships between players, the fluency in which teammates play together and, consequently, the level of play increases.

Paly Girls Water Polo’s Chesnie Cheung (‘20) also sees tangible perks to her team’s bonding activities such as day-trips to the beach or dining together. “I think it helps us play better as we are more comfortable with one another and will always be positive towards one another,” Cheung said.

Paly football improved its team bonding from the previous year and there have been many positive effects on the field. The players think this has a direct correlation with the improvement in the team’s record from the last few years.

“Last year we never hung out as a team and we never created a super strong bond as a team. To really become a team you have to spend time together and really get to know each other, last year we didn’t have that and this year we have built lots of bonds,” Andres Jimenez (‘19) said.

The team also talked about how they are a family and do not just watch out for each other on the field, but also throughout their lives.

“It’s not just about football. As a teammate you want to make sure your family is doing good with schoolwork and just in life in general,” Jimenez said.

Constant throughout Paly athletes, team bonding holds weight in forming a cohesive and cooperative team. Team bonding takes different forms from team to team, but, all in all, it serves a consistent purpose: strengthening the team, in play and in relationships.