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August 22, 2019 • Football

Jump-start the integration of new team members

{Sponsored} At the start of every season, coaches spend time helping integrate new athletes into their team. This could mean players who were part of the program and moved up to another team or maybe transfer students from another program. It’s important to have an integration plan to reduce the learning curve that exists when new players are added to the equation.

Here are a few suggestions to make this transition straightforward and smooth.

Easing Team Apprehension

No matter how experienced you are with this integration process, you’ll always notice that the returning team is uncertain about new players. In your conversations with the team at the start of the year, encourage inclusiveness and remind them that fresh energy and a new perspective will help every member of the team grow.

Teammate Mentors

As younger players become eligible for the team, set up mentorships between them and the athletes that are about to age out. Putting the rookies with the vets will help them learn from players who know the drills best and get comfortable in an environment with older players.

Integrating Transfer Students

While player orientation is important for every new addition to the roster, it’s especially important for any transfer students joining the program. Every coach has a different coaching style and every program environment is different. To help ensure that transfer students understand your philosophy and coaching tactics, you can try classroom-based orientation, strategy sheets, one-on-one conversations or an assigned mentorship with another player.

New Player Orientation

When planning and conducting new player orientation, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure all players attending take a learning approach. The coach leading orientation should start by explaining that the session will help new players acclimate to the team, ensure they’re on the same page as returning players and are clear about how practices and games will be conducted.
  2. Include video footage of key plays and pair the footage with coinciding Xs and Os so that multiple learning styles can be incorporated when explaining strategy.
  3. Be prepared to explain commonly used terms that may be unique to the program, team or position group.
  4. Include training on heads up tackle techniques. This will be further explained on the field when they try it out, if it’s a new strategy to them.

Becoming a Cohesive Unit

Pair each new player with an experienced member on the team. Choose older players with potential leadership skills who are in the same position as their new teammates. The pairings could mean the new player is shadowing, asking questions or jumping in if they’re comfortable.

During pep talks to the whole team, remind them of the goals or differentiators of the program. That can include things like:

  • We are one team.
  • We only are as good as those we surround ourselves with – the weakest link defines us.
  • There is zero tolerance for bullying – in-person, online or through social media.

By following these suggestions, your program will be set up for a successful and smooth transition into the season for all players – new and returning.

For more information about the USA Football’s Heads Up Football program and coach clinics, visit www.usafootball.com.

© 2019 USA Football

 


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