The Los Angeles Chargers started off the 2017 NFL season in rough fashion.
After 55 years of playing in San Diego, the Chargers made the move to Los Angeles this year, just one year after the Rams moved back to the City of Angels from St. Louis. The Chargers certainly had high expectations for this season, leaning on veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers and talented running back Melvin Gordon. But after four losses in a row, the season looked like it was over before it started.
In addition to their 2017 struggles, the Chargers also have had trouble winning close games over the last few months. To end its final season in San Diego, the Chargers suffered five straight losses, and the team only won one out of eight games decided by seven points or fewer.
Their luck started to change, however, as they bounced back from their zero and four start and are now in second place in their competitive AFC West division.
ESPN states that the Chargers attribute their newfound success to something that might seem unconventional for tough football teams: team-building exercises.
According to a Gallup study, team building exercises can help employees feel more connected to their employer and even boost company productivity performance by as much as 200%. NFL teams are no exception, apparently, and the Chargers used these same team-building strategies to overcome their early season adversities.
“We have a sports psychiatrist that’s on hand here, and he works with the guys as far as different things that we want to go over every single month,” said Anthony Lynn, head coach of the Chargers. “These guys talk it out. They do exercises. Some of it is mental training. Some of it is focus. Some of it is just trusting one another and being together.”
Lynn added that he thinks the building blocks for dealing with adversity and establishing a winning culture were put in place with team-building exercises like paintball tournaments.
“Enough guys on this team have been in the league long enough to know that there are stretches where it can get bumpy and rocky,” said Rivers. “The guys that have been here, we have been through it plenty of times. I’m not saying that the veteran players should take credit for that, but I think it starts with the top. It starts with Coach Lynn.”