Guilty as charged! Despite playing hockey for decades, coaching and managing teams it is still evident there is so much in my game that signifies I could be a better team player. Talk is cheap action is what counts. For this reason this article has been written to remind myself what I must work on because it is a barrier to achieving one’s best on field performance and collectively a team’s best performance.
The best sports teams are made up of players who work together and are willing to make sacrifices. A team with unselfish players who support each other will generally perform better than a group of individuals that doesn’t play as a team. This is why, in addition to working on your individual skills, it’s also important to learn how to play and communicate with others so that there is singularity in a team’s performance. An individual player is only the lesser in the greater (the team).
Here are three tips to help you and me tobecome a great team player. There are many more but use these as a tool to undertake self- reflection for yourself – ‘Am I a good team person’
- Be a ‘WE PLAYER’ rather than a ‘ME PLAYER’
A ‘me’ player is obviously concerned about aspects of the game that affect and benefit him or her, e.g., how many goals I get, what position I play etc. Whereas a ‘we player’ understands he or she is a part of the team and is committed to helping the team, regardless of his or her role individually. Is about your performance or the team’s performance?
- Do you encourage your team mates or complain/ point the finger when things are not going to plan
It is easy to blame others or complain. They become the scapegoats for things not going well but in reality it should be about a self-assessment and finding ways to encourage team mates who are trying but failing in genuine way both on and off the field. A team is only as good as all parts come together as a whole despite the different abilities that may be present in the team. Out of one’s mouth can come words that build up or tear down. It is important to be mindful of this. Do not condemn yourself for failing in this area but continue to work towards what is positive in the long term. Become someone who cheers on his team mates.
- Adopt a sacrificial way of playing on the field and being part of the team off the field
Off the field it is about doing the little things that go unnoticed like picking up the training balls after use, giving a player their water bottle after they come off the field etc. On the field it is about going the ‘extra mile’. For example, doing the work of your team mate when they can’t. Coming off the field when you know your ‘spent’ to allow a fresh team mate to come on.
As an individual one needs to embrace the importance being part of a team so that you are not self- serving. The following quotes capture the identity of a team. It is a good exercise to build your own team identification philosophy as a reality check – “Am I a good team player?”
- “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
- “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” – Michael Jordan
- “Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” – Patrick Lencioni
- “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napolean Hill
- “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington
- “None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.” – Mother Teresa