Coaching Volleyball Magazine June / July 2015 - Page 21

Building a Better World Building a Better Team? By Cara Cocchiarella, Ed. D. A s a head collegiate women’s basketball coach, I found myself doing everything I could to strengthen the bonds between the players on my team. I tried all of the traditional team-building activities including game nights, team dinners, challenge courses, retreats, etc. Some of our efforts seemed to be fairly successful … which, like any coach, was never enough to satisfy me. While I continued to employ team building activities at practically every possible turn, I really never could tell if the impact was positive and, if so, to what degree. After doing considerable research, I discovered that I was not alone in this venture. While there is research to support the efforts of coaches aiming to maximize the cohesiveness of their teams, exactly how to do so is unknown. Studies have shown that coaches actively strive to promote cohesion in teams on a regular basis and that the results of such efforts are positive (Carron, Brawley & Widmeyer, 2002), but what does that mean to those of us in the field? In following my passion for team-building, along with an appreciation for the role of community service on college campuses, I conducted a study to examine service work as it relates to collegiate volleyball. Specifically, I investigated civil service as a potential teambuilding activity. With the help of 512 NCAA Division I women’s volleyball coaches and players, I discovered a handful of trends beneficial to any coach striving to maximize team cohesion and to incorporate meaningful community service in team activities. In order to fully understand this research and its origins, I ventured into the world of existing research pertaining to both service work and team cohesiveness. The findings of that investigation, as well as the results of this study, may be combined to paint a comprehensive picture of the potential for employing community service as a team-building activity. A few of the questions addressed in this study include the following: Do teams that conduct service together score higher on measures of cohesiveness than those that COACHING VOLLEYBALL | June/July 2015 | 19