Important Tips to Becoming a Great Sports Teammate
Being a great sports teammate is what makes every great sports team great. While having natural talent and knowledgeable coaches certainly contribute toward team success, it is up to every individual team member to fully engage in the team process in order for team success to occur. When team members are selfless and committed to team success, the entire team experiences a boost in motivation, focus, and resiliency — all qualities commonly found on successful teams. The great news about being an important team member is that every person can be a great teammate, even if they are not the most talented or gifted athlete.
Qualities of a great teammate
Great sport teammates focus on team goals, respect fellow teammates, keep team spirits high, and provide strong support for teammates experiencing distress. Great teammates are selfless, instead directing all their focus and attention toward team success that relies on every team member feeling appreciated and respected. Great teammates listen to fellow teammates, and they display sympathy toward unfortunate circumstances, like overcoming an injury. If you are a sports parent or coach, sit down with your kids and discuss the following characteristics commonly found in successful teammates:
- Attitude. Encourage kids to choose their attitude every day, as this is something they have complete control over (compared to other qualities, including physical height). By choosing to be positive and optimistic they will be creating their best chances for both individual and team success, and to think all that needs to be done is to decide the attitude you want to have for today. It is also important to note that attitude is contagious, and when teammates begin to choose to be positive often the entire team improves their collective attitude as a result.
- Preparation. Again, regardless of talent, every teammate can come to the field each day fully prepared to go. This means getting school work done ahead of time, fueling up and being fully hydrated, and stretching to prevent injuries from occurring. Being prepared also means knowing your role, and the expectations the team has for you. Remember, “luck” is when preparation meets opportunity, so make it a point to out-prepare the competition whenever possible.
- Focus. Talented people share the quality of being able to direct their undivided attention toward a singular goal, compared to less successful people who tend to allow their focus to wander and direct toward irrelevant things. Do the next thing best whenever possible, meaning learn how to direct and sustain your full focus toward whatever it is that you are doing at any moment. Here again is another skill every team member can learn and master, regardless of athletic talent.
- Versatility. Great team members know that team roles can change, especially when injuries and academic grades are involved. It is important to always be ready to respond to the call when changes are necessary, and coaches always appreciate team members less concerned with their own personal stats and more focused on doing whatever is necessary to ensure team success.
- Sympathy. Feeling sorry for another person’s misfortune is one way to connect with what a teammate may be experiencing by means of injury, school struggles, or challenges at home. We experience a deeper level of sympathy, known as empathy, when we actually feel what someone is going through and place ourselves directly in their circumstances. These efforts made to connect together strengthen interpersonal relationships, and inevitably add to the overall strength of the team.
Being a great sports teammates does not require great strength or speed, nor does is it mean you have to be one of the best players on the team. Instead, being a great sports teammates relies simply on wanting to be an important team member, and a commitment to the qualities found in successful teammates. The success of the team relies on every team member buying in to the team by means of attitude, preparation, focus, versatility, and sympathy — qualities that every team member can develop through dedicated coaching/parenting.