Learning to work in a team is one of the most frequently-cited benefits of youth sports, especially because it’s a life skill that’s essential off the field.
But learning goes both ways, and teaching teamwork activities at home can also have big benefits on the field.
This is a great basement game for a rainy day, or a backyard game on a sunny afternoon. At minimum it requires four people, but can be played with larger groups, and you’ll need two bed sheets (blankets or large beach towels work, too) and ball (soccer ball, basketball, even tennis ball). Break up into two teams, each with one sheet.
The object is to place the ball in the center of your sheet and, working together, snap the sheet taught to toss the ball to the other team. Similarly, the other team has to work together to catch the ball in their sheet before it hits the ground, and then communicate to toss it back.
This is a popular team-building exercise with sports teams and it can be equally entertaining at home, especially when a parent is the one blindfolded! It can also be played either indoors or outdoors. Place a blindfold on one participant and then place an object somewhere out in the yard or room. Using only verbal instructions, the person who placed the object has to direct the blindfolded partner to retrieve it.
To make this teamwork activity more challenging and/or entertaining, obstacles can be placed in the way as well so the blindfolded person has to be directed around objects they can’t touch. You can also make this a family competition by dividing into teams and timing how long it takes or how many commands are required to lead the blindfolded participant to the object.
You may have to sacrifice a tarp or old bed sheet for this one. You’ll need at least 3-4 people, but this is a game you can do with a neighborhood of kids. Start by cutting a hole in a tarp or sheet. Then spread it out on the ground and have participants stand along its edges, roughly spaced out evenly. Have participants grasp the tarp and lift it off the ground, such that the tarp is taut and level. Place a ball in front of one participant. The goal is for the group to work together to roll the ball completely around the tarp and back past the person it started in front of. However, the challenge is keeping the ball from dropping through the whole or rolling off the side!
Once the group can get the ball around, you can introduce more challenge by seeing how many times they can get it around without dropping it. Once your team has mastered multiple circuits, you can make it a timed challenge by seeing how many times they can get the ball around in 60 seconds.
No one loves chores but they need to be done. One way to take the drudgery out of chores is to make it about teamwork. If your family likes to enjoy a Sunday night dinner out, or maybe just dessert, try setting a time for chores to begin. Once they’re done, the reward is getting to go out together for that dinner or dessert. As a bonus, the house will be clean and laundry will be folded when you get home!
With younger kids, one way to turn cleanup into a game is to fit two of them into one large t-shirt so they have to stay together each having only one hand outside the shirt. After thoroughly wrecking a room in your house (as children will do…), give them a timer and a challenge to clean up while they are stuck together.
Teamwork activities like these are valuable for teaching kids that working together can be more fun, more effective, and more rewarding than trying to do everything by yourself. So, while youth sports are great for building and teaching teamwork, don’t wait for the coach to do it; great teamwork skills can begin and be reinforced at home!