Playing fields represent battlegrounds to test which team has the better playstyle and strategies. It is through these encounters that squads can show their character and prove their dominance as they conquer their foes. Behind the spectacle that sporting events deliver to viewers, the chemistry and cohesiveness of a team are what drive them forward toward victory.
However, the diversity of individuals comprising a team often means that each member has differing personalities from one another, contributing to a unique brand that distinguishes the unit as a whole. Through time, each team may also develop a special form of chemistry among them. These variations may be slight, but they play a critical role in the performance of a team, and in turn, they can influence the outcome of a game.
Relying on individual skills and failing to establish unity among the members, the team’s performance level could be compromised. As such, players invest much time not only in perfecting their movements individually but also in becoming in sync with their teammates in and out of the game.
Building up the bond
Varsity teams in the UAAP have different compositions of athletes; some may have a balanced mix of fresh and familiar faces, while others could be comprised of mainly rookies or veterans. Furthermore, some athletes hail from various provinces, while others could come from the high school division of another university. Whether with an old teammate, a stranger, or someone they’ve once considered a foe, what brings these athletes together is their unified vision to win as a team that is strengthened by their passion for the sport.
Green Batter Luis Miñana believes that finding a common ground with his teammates has allowed the team from Taft to become a stronger unit, as the sophomore pitcher attests, “Baseball gave [us] a new opportunity to create a new bond as teammates.”
Other than their mutual interest in the sport, athletes are also able to create relationships with one another outside the team’s training sessions. Miñana shares that through “unplanned events and spontaneous hangouts”, they are able to maintain their “friendship that eventually builds chemistry on the field.”
Similarly, Lady Booters team captain Bea Delos Reyes explains that keeping everything light off the field helps everyone grow comfortable around each other. “We all get along easily because we’re full of humor,” she shares, disclosing that the squad makes time for bonding with each other by going out and eating together. Through these simple things, Delos Reyes says, she noticed an added boost to the morale and spirit of the team.
Moreover, the coaching staff is also a factor that molds the team’s cohesiveness. The Green Batters have three coaches focusing on different fundamental skills in baseball—specifically pitching, hitting, and defense—enabling them to maximize individual potential while also building up to the larger picture of team play. “It really created a great system for our team to be able to thrive in what we do,” Miñana expresses.
Through tough times
Naturally, not everything goes by so smoothly all the time, as even the most exceptional of teams can be troubled by challenges along the way. The biggest hurdle that the Green Batters had to overcome last Season 81, Miñana recounts, was when they held a 2-2 win-loss record at the start of tournament and were bound to play the Season 80 champions, the AdU Soaring Falcons.
Prior to that, the team felt that they were “too tight [and] not relaxing” and were no longer enjoying playing their games. Their chemistry was fading, so the Lasallians knew they had to change their system immediately in order to improve their standings.
“We dedicated our training to talking with each other, learning what we should do in the next games, and what to change,” Miñana shares. By confronting that hitch early on in the season, they were able to come to a resolution and went on to win their next six games. The Green-and-White finished the elimination round at 8-2, punching their ticket to the finals and even capturing the championship over archrivals Ateneo.
For Delos Reyes, she admits that, “Hindi talaga maiiwasan ‘yung magka-inisan at mapikon sa isa’t isa…We were able to get through it by addressing the problem through team meetings, and I believe we were able to understand each other and resolve the conflict.” Not all the pieces can really be expected to fit perfectly together from day one, but the members identify these problems as a team and, with time and effort, solve them as one.
(Getting frustrated with one another is unavoidable.)
Within each squad exists a unique connection that is deemed essential in their play style, requiring each member to do their part in solidifying the team.
For the Green Batters, the key was to find that certain “click” that would establish the bridge linking the different components of the team. “Getting close to each other all happened outside of team buildings and sessions, so it really just made our friendship stronger with one another,” adds Miñana. This bond translated into their in-game performance as well; he and his teammates could tell what they were thinking during games without saying a word.
Similarly, the Lady Booters have transcended beyond the different backgrounds that each player carries, paving a common path for the team to navigate through together. “Despite our team being diverse, we always find time to enjoy what we’re doing and be able to cheer each other up,” Delos Reyes explains that having each other’s backs was the confidence booster that allowed the squad to play at a higher level.
The impact of the bond within teams is something that may often be overlooked, but it is essential to attaining success. Team chemistry amplifies the individual skills of team members like parts of a well-oiled machine fittingly complementing each other’s roles—transforming separate units into vital and interconnected elements building a larger whole.
“Having this kind of relationship, I feel [that it] really helps elevate our performance,” Miñana expresses. “You know each other’s style of play, what they want to do individually and for the team, so helping them achieve that is what makes playing the sport enjoyable.”