I recently wrote about coaches/leagues that required their players to wear matching practice attire, wondering if strict enforcement (in this case sending them home if they didn’t have it on) was too much. I also wondered about the team building effects of team attire at practice – good or bad. So this season, instead of just wondering, I decided to give it a try with my own team and see what happened.
Last year when our team formed, one of our parents had his graphics designers at work, who were between projects, come up with some designs for the ‘Lunachicks’. They gave him a couple and a few other parents gave it a shot and we chose a fairly simple one that would be easy to recognize and screen. You can see it on the right. As one of our parents coined it: “Chicks on Moons”. But we never got a chance to do anything with it until this year (my fault as slack coach! )
Our league gives each travel team a small equipment budget, so having a lot of equipment already, we decided to spend some on practice shirts for the girls. We got royal blue T-Shirts and screened the design in yellow. These are the league’s colors. We put their number on the back, just like it was on their uniforms, and told the girls they had to wear them to practice. I told the girls we wouldn’t send them home if they forgot, but hills definitely were in the realm of possibility if they did.
So the girls began arriving at practice in their Lunachick shirts. At first I think they were a bit self conscious, but then they seemed to enjoy wearing them – proud in a way. They weren’t just a team of soccer players, they were “Lunachicks”. Now we stressed teamwork and team building all through the preseason in a variety of ways, so I can’t say what type of impact the shirts had exactly, but I think in the end it was good.
At our first match, when the referees were checking player passes and calling each girl to step forward and stand behind them, the girls decided to stand there arm in arm until the entire team was there:
They’ve done this ever since and came up with it all on their own. It’s just a small thing, but it spoke volumes to how far they had come as a team. Did the shirts play a part? Impossible to tell. But I think it helped them gel as a team along with other things and so far the results are very positive.
Just for kicks, we told our parents that they could order ‘Lunachick Attire’ through our local sporting goods store. Let’s just say we were blown away when we took the final order in and there had to be 40 different items on the list (sleeveless T-Shirts, sweatshirts, long sleeve shirts, etc.) Yeah, the parents got a bit carried away, but the girls thought it was the coolest thing when the sidelines were nothing but Royal Blue and ‘Chicks on Moons’ at their first couple matches.
Do you do practice attire? Does it help build a sense of team?