11 Cohesive Team Bonding Activities for Athletes

Aavni Desai
July 16, 2024
6 min read
Teamwork makes the dream work.

As the word suggests, team sports are built on the foundation of teamwork, trust, mutual support and a shared sense of purpose. While skill and strategy are critical components of any sport, the bond between teammates can often make the difference between a good team and a great one. So as a sports coach, you understand the importance of practices that help in fostering communication and developing a sense of unity. This is where team bonding activities come into play. Designed to bring athletes closer together, these group activities not only strengthen relationships among team members but also improve team dynamics and overall morale.

Here are 11 quick and easy cohesive team bonding activities designed to strengthen the bonds between athletes, improve cooperation, and create a unified team spirit. From trust exercises to fun group challenges, these activities will help your team achieve greater harmony and success.

1. Appreciation Circle 🟠

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ― William Arthur Ward.

Objective: Setting a positive and thoughtful tone within the team

Duration: 30 seconds to 1 minute per team member

How-to: Forming an appreciation circle with your teammates in order to let each other know what they appreciate best about another person in the team sets a happy and harmonious environment. Name a team member and a good characteristic they possess, then nominate another member to do the same for another teammate. A little appreciation goes a long way; it helps everyone feel valued and drives them to do their best.

The twist: The teammates could also mention which moment or incident highlighted that particular characteristic. This not only reinforces the positive trait but also brings to light memorable moments that strengthened the team. For example, recalling a time when someone showed exceptional leadership during a critical game or when another member offered unwavering support during a tough practice can carve deeper connections and inspire and motivate everyone.

a coach and his football team kneeling in a circle on a field

2. 20 Up 🆙

Objective: Fostering co-operation and understanding team dynamics

Duration: 15-20 minutes

How-to: The goal of this activity is for the team to count to twenty, one person saying one number at a time. (Do not be fooled, it is not as easy as it sounds!)

Sit in a circle and randomly blurt out a number; anybody can start. Jump into the circle each time you say a number. If another teammate jumps into the circle and says the same number(s) at the same time, the count starts all over again.

This game is also a great way to introduce some spontaneity and physical activity into the mood. Members are required to work together, anticipate actions, understand dynamics and communicate - only to a limited extent - to reach a common goal.

The twist: Everyone who jumps into the circle at the same time has to display a hidden talent they have. Whether it's a quirky dance move, a funny impression, or a unique skill, sharing these hidden talents can not only lighten the mood and bring a lot of laughter but also help teammates learn more about each other beyond their athletic abilities

3. Solve a Puzzle 🧩

Objective: Building good communication and teamwork

Duration: 30 seconds to 1 minute per colleague

How-to: Pick a jigsaw puzzle - however big or small and distribute its pieces among the team members. For example, if you choose a 500 piece puzzle, hand out 50 random pieces to each of the 10 team members.) Set a time limit for the team to assemble the complete puzzle. As each team member adds their pieces to the puzzle, they will need to communicate effectively, share ideas, and collaborate closely to complete the task.

Use the moment of peace at the end of completing the puzzle to reflect on the team’s strategy, highlight strengths, identify areas for improvement, recognize individual contributions and celebrate the collective achievement.

two people solving a puzzle

4. Show and Tell 📢

Objective: Sharing thoughts with the team, promoting active listening, strengthening bonds

Duration: 1-2 minutes per team member

How-to: For this team building activity, you could go back to the basics and encourage everyone on the team to share a little piece of themselves - a fond childhood memory, a favorite personal effect or an interesting hobby. To give it a sports twist, team members could be encouraged to share their biggest achievements or highlight a moment of glory from their days playing the sport, with the current team or even with a previous team.

By sharing unique and meaningful aspects of their lives, team members can learn more about each other on a personal level, find common ground, appreciate diverse experiences, and build stronger, more empathetic connections.

P.S. - This could also work wonders if you are looking for virtual team building activities.

a person giving a presentation in front of his colleagues

5. Board/Card Games 🃏

Objective: Improving communication and strategic thinking in a relaxed atmosphere

Duration: Depends on the game you play; 30 minutes to 1 hour for a card game, and much longer if you decide to champion Monopoly!

How-to: Yes, a game of Uno or Monopoly can lead to the next World War, but it’s all in good fun. Add excitement to the dugout by hosting a board or card game night. You could also try games like Cards Against Humanity’s SFW version or Jenga. They’re a great way to bring out everyone’s inner child and competitive natures and fostering camaraderie and teamwork, all while having a blast.

A group of teammates playing Uno and Jenga

6. Treasure Hunt 🗝️

Objective: Boosting problem-solving skills and unity

Duration: 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the level of difficulty and number of clues

How-to: Turn the field, court, or dressing room into a thrilling quest with an exciting treasure hunt. Hide clues strategically around the area, leading teams through a series of challenges and puzzles as they try to figure out where each clue leads next. This is also a fun way for new recruits to explore and learn more about the space.

Incorporate team challenges at various points to test problem-solving abilities and hone critical skills, albeit in a fun and adventurous setting. Make sure the hunt culminates in a shared reward or accomplishment (maybe a basket of goodies!), reinforcing unity and celebrating collective success.

The twist: You could base some clues on team-based facts, or questions about team members, to test their knowledge of one another and strengthen interpersonal bonds. For example, "Which teammate won the MVP award last season?" or "What is the name of the team captain’s pet dog?” This not only makes the hunt more personalized and engaging but also encourages team members to learn more about each other and recall shared experiences, strengths, and interests, fostering a deeper sense of connection and understanding.

a group pf colleagues having coffee and hanging out

7. Set Up a Projector for Movie Night 📽️

Objective: Creating a relaxed and enjoyable team bonding experience

Duration: Depends on the movie you pick

How-to: Find an empty wall, set up a projector and a white screen, and you’re good to go. Set up a poll and let everyone choose the movie they want to watch. Consider selecting a film based on the team sport you play - Goal!, Bend it like Beckham, Space Jam, Moneyball - the list is endless. Arrange for a snack and drinks bar, and throw in some rugs and pillows to make it super-comfy.

The twist: Everyone must pick a chit out of a bowl before the movie begins. Each chit ha a team member’s name that the person picking the chit must sit next to. It’s a great way to form new friendships within the team and strengthen bonds beyond the field.

two friends watching Netflix together

8. Line-Up 🧍

Objective: Learning more about the team members

Duration: 15-20 minutes

How-to: Line your team up, set the stopwatch, and let everyone guess in what order you’ve lined them up. The chronology could be based on birthdays, seniority, height or anything else that might come to mind. This activity adds the fun of a brain teaser and personal fact-finding game together. Everyone gets physically comfortable around each other and learns something new. It’s a great conversation starter too.‍

a coach making a group of students stand in line in a basketball court

9. Lunch & Learn 🍲

Objective: Promoting knowledge sharing and team interaction

Duration: Typically lasts the duration of a lunch break, approximately 30-60 minutes.

How-to: Organize a session where team members gather during lunchtime to discuss and learn about specific topics relevant to their sport or field. Assign different team members or experts to lead short presentations or discussions on tactics, strategies, or recent developments in the sport. Encourage open dialogue and questions to foster a learning atmosphere while enjoying a meal together. Some lunches could simply be devoted to opening the floor to conversation and questions about family, friends and other aspects of everyone’s private lives. And while you’re at it, maybe organize a potluck lunch too!

The twist: Before seating, team members draw chits from a bowl to determine their table assignment. This random allocation encourages mixing between seniors and juniors, fostering mentorship opportunities and strengthening team cohesion across different experience levels.‍

a group of girls having a conversation while sharing a pizza

10. A Face-Off 🎭

Objective: Creating a light-hearted atmosphere and showcasing individual creativity

Duration: 1-2 minutes per person

How to:  Host friendly competitions for categories like Best Dressed, Best Meal, Best Poetry, or Funniest Meme. This activity brings out everyone’s unique personality and interests, making it one of the most enjoyable team-building activities while also adding a competitive touch.

The twist: Allow everyone to vote on their top 2 favorites. This interactive voting process adds a fun, competitive element and encourages team members to engage and support each other's creativity.

11. Hire a stand up comedian 🎤

Objective: Creating a relaxed and engaging atmosphere for team bonding and laughter.

Duration: Approximately one hour

How-to: Contact artist management companies to hire a stand-up comedian. Brief the comedian about the members of the team, their traits, and the team’s unique quirks. Stand-up comedy adds a delightful and humorous touch to the team environment, fostering camaraderie and providing everyone with a shared topic of conversation.

a group of friends laughing

The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” – Phil Jackson

When it comes to team sports, the bonds forged off the field are as vital as those on it. From intense challenges to light-hearted games and shared moments of laughter, each team bonding activity contributes to strengthening communication, trust, and unity among team members. These experiences not only enhance performance but also create a supportive environment where individuals thrive together.

Team building isn’t just about building better athletes; it’s about nurturing a culture of respect, collaboration, and resilience. If you're a sports academy dedicated to building better athletes, Classcard, with its easy-to-use class management software, has got you covered.

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Aavni Desai

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