Monday, May 1, 2017

What Does Being a Part of a Team Mean?

Almost 20 years ago I had a conversation with my sister during one of her collegiate volleyball seasons.  She was disappointed that her playing time had diminished.  I asked her, “Would you rather be a star player on a losing team, or a contributor on a National Championship Team?”  Let that question sink in for a minute.
Today, we are in a society that we earn our worth by how many likes we get on a social media post.  We write reviews on businesses instantly and think the rest of the world truly cares what our opinion is.  As parents we sit in the stands and feel the winning percentage of the team defines who we are as parents instead of enjoying the opportunity to watch our kids play a game they love.  Kids coming out of college expect a $60,000 a year job and ownership of the company they are working for.  Half of the population is protesting something and the other half is upset at the protestors.  It’s no wonder the “Team Concept” is getting lost in youth sports.
You have probably seen the following scenario:
1The score is tied and going into the second International Tiebreaker.  Your team has a runner at second and your best batter is up at the plate.  The count becomes full and just like a storybook ending; a powerful swing sends the ball deep into the gap scoring the winning run!
These plays are exciting and as long as I can remember, there is always that one player who seems to get all of the glory.  For whatever reason, there is “that player” who has the opportunity to deliver the big result when the game is on the line.  Unfortunately, behind the fence there is the other player’s parent who is upset because “that player” wasn’t their kid.  Isn’t that a sad fact of youth sports?
2Softball teams are made up of more than just the nine players who are in the field.  Softball teams are comprised of specialized baserunners, designated players, and backups.  Everyone on the team has a role and it is important for the success of the organization.
The key to a successful team is the acceptance of your role to help the team accomplish its goals.  Now, I want to make it very clear that if your daughter is not a starter on the team; she does not have to be satisfied with that particular role.  I encourage every player to have big dreams and strive to reach for those dreams as it will allow her to do great things.
Softball teams only have 9 spots on the field.  Therefore, if your daughter is not one of the starters can she still be a good teammate?  Can you as a parent help your player grow into a mature adult?
Anyone can throw on a jersey and call herself part of the team, but there is so much more to it than that. When you put on your jersey, you are not only becoming part of a team but part of a family. Whether you get along or not, all your problems should be pushed aside, for the sake of your team.
3A good teammate understands that no matter what position you may play, whether you are the best player on the team or on the field, you are nothing without your teammates. The key to a good teammate is being willing to give up anything for your team, sacrificing whatever it takes.  A good teammate will continue to battle with you and not run away when things get tough.
Teammates are supposed to be responsible for one another and look out for each other on and off the field.
The best teammates are ones who pull for each other, even while competing for a position; you should continue to root your teammate on because you are both vital to the team’s success.  You should always want the best outcome for your teammates.
There is no room for negativity on a team. A good teammate should never put another player down; they should always pick each other up, especially on their lowest days. Teammates stick together, even on their worst days. No matter what a player may go through, just think how much more difficult it would be if they were doing it alone.
Learn to Listen or be coachable.  This is a huge one because no matter who is on your team, you can always learn from them. Drop your ego, listen when a teammate talks to you, thank them for their advice and think about what they said. Maybe it wasn’t good, maybe it won’t help you, but you won’t know if you don’t listen to them or the coach.
4Be Supportive.  A team full of players who support each other will do better and have more fun than a team full of a bunch of individuals who aren’t a part of the same common goal. What I mean by supporting your teammates is that when they make a good play – tell them. Congratulate them. When they screw up, don’t get on their case. They know they made a mistake. They’re already beating themselves up about it. So don’t make it worse and call them out on it.
Be Accountable.  In order to be a part of your team, it’s good to know what your role on the team is and what the team can expect from you. Again, this doesn’t mean to not get better at another position that you desire.  However, it does mean to be the best you can possibly be at the position or role you are asked to play.  Iron always sharpens Iron!
Set Goals.  Define some goals for yourself.  Basically this comes down to being realistic with yourself about how much time you can commit to the team, what you can expect to bring to the team based on your skill development and what you yourself expect to get out of the season.  Once you define your goals write down how you will accomplish those goals.  Are you going to spend the extra time in the batting cage, add an extra pitching lesson in each week or work on fielding drills you have researched on the internet?
5Exhibit flexibility.  Roll with the punches when things change. The ability to take advantage of an opportunity, even if it means changing plans, is huge.
Work as a problem-solver.  Good teammates are problem-solvers, not problem-dwellers. They don’t look to blame others, but rather find a way to make things work.
Being committed to a team is the same as being committed to school or a job. Your bosses and teachers rely on you to be there, and they expect you to work hard to become your best. Becoming your best for the sake of the whole is a great teammate quality and also a valuable lifelong trait. This, along with the other teammate traits mentioned, builds our character and shapes us for a future of happiness and success.