Army Crew Team Case Study - Team Building

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Team Submission: Bad Jazz
Jane Blatz; Zachary Brado; Adam Medwetsky;
David Cooper; Burhan Saiyed; Tian Wang

Case Study: The Army Crew Team

Reason: Why does the Varsity Team Lose to the JV Team?

Varsity’s consistent losses to the JV team can be explained by their lack of characteristics that make up a true team. The losses can also be attributed to JV’s strong team cohesion and the presence of team disrupters on the Varsity team.

Team Playing vs. Individuality
The Army’s Varsity Crew team was not a true team. They were merely eight star athletes, with no cohesion or team chemistry, thrown together. The players and positions were selected strictly on physical strength and capabilities. This completely contradicts the views of the more experienced crew coaches, who rank psychological factors as the most important aspect of a successful crew team. Instead of selecting players by the single most important aspect of a team’s success, these factors were ignored. In a sport where team trust and dependence is of utter importance, where even a hair flip can throw off an entire race, the lack of team cohesion and trust within one another caused great failure. It proved foolish to simply throw a group of good athletes together and expect them to be compatible. This strategy is a prime example of when “the whole is less than the sum of its parts.”

Lack of Shared Goal
In addition, the Varsity “team” had no solid team goal that they were working towards. Yes, they all wanted to win; however they were unclear as to how they would work together to accomplish this. This was evident from the team e-mails and discussions. The individual players proved to be too egotistical and centrally focused on their individual goals of personal success and opinions to function. They were too focused on individual blame and accountability to work together successfully. They never discussed bettering themselves as a team unit.

Lack of Direction – Absent Leadership
The Varsity team also had no leadership or productive communication. There was never any motivational leader. The team had nobody to inspire them to work together to improve the team. Whenever team discussions occurred, no facilitator was present. This resulted in poor communication and resentment and hard feelings among teammates. There was constant complaining and blaming of other teammates. Individuals expressed clear frustration by feeling underappreciated. This negative atmosphere resulted in the Varsity team becoming angry, discouraged and completely disenfranchised. Nobody seemed to have any hope that the team could improve. They seemed to have given up. In contrast, the JV team, although weaker in physical ability, functioned very well together as a team. They had great team cohesion and adjusted to each other extraordinarily.

JV Team Collective Growth and Positive Outlook
The JV team was also very team-oriented. Unlike the Varsity team, they avoided individual blame. When they did discuss improvement, only team improvement was brought up. Instead of criticizing individuals and adding unnecessary pressure, they looked for productive solutions in a positive way. Instead of fearing resentment from individual teammates, the JV team simply motivated themselves by “not wanting to let each other down.” The JV teammates also offered each other positive support, which proved to be better than Varsity’s negativity, which was reflected in their e-mails to the coach. The JV team was also willing to improve itself in unconventional ways. They openly embraced the CEP psychologist activities as an exciting opportunity. On the other hand, the Varsity team was skeptical and said it was too “touch-feely.” Given their failure thus far in the season, the Varsity team should have been open-minded to opportunities to improve as a team.

FINDINGS
A combination of JV’s exemplary teamwork and support and Varsity’s negative environment and unwillingness...
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