See how this blind-folded team has formed a winning bond
WHAT better way to strengthen a team's winning bond during a break than organise a fun training session dressed as your favourite characters.
That's exactly what the high-flying Ipswich Force women did during their state league bye weekend.
Apart from giving the players a chance to visit some friends interstate or spend time with their families, Force head coach Brad George was thrilled to see his team enjoy themselves at a different type of training session.
The basketballers wore a range of attention-grabbing attire, dancing and having lip synch battles in little groups.
The players also had some games blindfolded as part of a team communication exercise.
The players had to talk their blindfolded teammates through an obstacle course.
Georgia Williams' team won the overall competition.
Captain Bree Farley and European import Gintare Mazionyte were chosen as best dressed for their Mario and Luigi costumes.
Preparing for the team's first doubleheader weekend this season, George said the antics enhanced the team's connection.
"The girls just had a bit of fun, a bit of bonding,'' the experienced state league coach said.
"You play better when you're having fun. Get your mind off the same thing you do all the time, something different.''
It was a good time to balance serious training with a light-hearted session.
Force are unbeaten in their first five matches to be second on the Queensland Basketball League ladder.
Competition leaders Townsville are the only other undefeated side with seven victories.
Although confident his team can beat Toowoomba again on Saturday night and 10th placed Logan on Sunday, George said it was important his players kept focused with a showdown against Townsville looming the following weekend.
"Toowoomba's a lot harder to play up there,'' George said, having watched his team account for the Mountaineers 94-59 in the previous clash.
"But if we turn up, we'll hopefully get the win over them.
"Logan's record doesn't speak for the team. They have got a good side. They have just got their two imports all together. They just haven't gelled yet.''
Being in a strong position sets up Force well for another finals' charge.
"We're going allright,'' George said. "We have a lot of areas to improve on. We just lose focus sometimes on the defensive end.
"But where we are at the moment, we can keep building and work into some tough games to come.''
The 10th placed Force men also play Toowoomba on Saturday night before meeting fourth-placed Logan on Sunday.
Coach Chris Riches was happy his players had an extended long weekend off after such a demanding pre-season and with three doubleheaders coming up.
"From now until the end of the regular season, it's pretty much a consistent game every single week and two games like this weekend,'' he said.
Ipswich only lost to Toowoomba by three points in the game before their bye.
However, Riches was confident his team was gelling well and learning from every game.
"We've played against both these teams (Toowoomba and Logan) already early on in the season and lost to both, so for us, this a situation where we can reflect move heavily on our performance and what we need to do moving forward,'' he said.
"Everyone is just really focused on trying to improve in every session.''
The team has been strengthened by the arrival of US College graduate Josh Spiers, who Riches tipped to make a big impact in a wing position.
However, another Force newcomer Joe Owens is likely to be sidelined at least a few more games with an ankle injury.
QBL: Saturday (6pm and 8pm) - Ipswich Force men and women v Toowoomba in Toowoomba.
Sunday (2pm and 4pm): Ipswich Force men and women v Logan at Cornubia Park Sports Complex.