Team chemistry can sometimes be hard to define, but when it’s absent, it’s readily apparent. Some fans might doubt the importance of having a close-knit team, or how getting along inside the locker room can benefit a team between the lines, but few coaches share that logic.
Allen (Texas) High School head baseball coach Paul Coe is one coach who considers team chemistry very important.
“Talent obviously is important, but if you don’t have guys pulling for each other, I think it actually hurts your team. I think it’s important for the guys to like each other, to work together, for your team. It’s a team sport full of individual battles, but at the end of the day, it’s a team sport and they got to be able to work together,” Coe said.
In Coe’s case, strong team chemistry is almost a given. Many of his players started playing together at a young age, maybe in elementary school or earlier, and they have already been teammates for a number of years. So not only do they know one another quite well off the diamond, they also know exactly what one another is capable of between the lines.
Of course, no matter how well a group of players already know one another, there are certain shared experiences that help bring them even closer as a group.
“We spend a lot of time in the offseason, not necessarily on team building, but we work out a lot in the weight room, we run a lot and that builds team unity, doing things together, doing things that aren’t fun,” Coe said. “You’re sweating together, you wake up together.”
But having a tight-knit group doesn’t mean that it’s a hard team to break into. In fact, Coe believes quite the opposite.
In the rare situation of a new player entering his program, Coe has seen his players go out of their way to make those newcomers immediately feel welcome.
Part of having strong team chemistry is the built-in support system. When one player struggles on or off the field, his teammates are there to pick him up.
“When the kids care about each other and they see somebody going through something, then they’re going to naturally try to pick him up. When you have genuine care and team camaraderie, that’s something kids do,” Coe said. “They’re very resilient and they care about each other, so they try to step up and help their teammate out, stay after to help him out, do whatever they need to pick him up after an at-bat.”
That chemistry also helps coaches anytime they want to tinker with their lineup because they know each player roster will be on board.
“You’ve got to do it the right way, visit with the kids, make sure they understand why you’re doing something,” Coe said. “But having a good relationship with kids and having good team chemistry, it’s easier to have those conversations and know that the other players are going to be there for that person also.”
From GameChanger and Stephen Hunt.