Honoring the Game by Respecting our Teammates

If you have been following this series the last several months, and we hope you have, you know that we have dedicated this season to HONOR the GAME by respecting the ROOTS – Rules, Opponents, Officials, and this month, Teammates.  It seems like this would be an simple and easily achieved concept, respecting those who you play alongside but unfortunately, this Is not always the case.  Here are some thoughts on how parents and coaches can encourage and support this in our youth players.

Adapted from – “5 Ways To Teach Kids How To Be A Good Teammate” by Jessica Tucker

# 5-Everyone Contributes

Regardless of whether a member of the team is actively playing or sitting on the sidelines, good teammates realize that they always have a role to play and take that role seriously.

According to HR Daily Advisor, a good teammate always has something to contribute regardless of their “position” on the team. This could be cheering on members of the same team from the sidelines if not actively playing or if on the injured list. It could be assisting with a score versus trying for all the glory when on the field. The sign of good teammates is everyone pulling equal weight overall and everyone feeling respected as a result.

#4-The Score Is Not What It Is All About

Of course, every team would love to walk away with a win. But when players play well together and still end up losing, they need to recognize that the final score is not what is important. Rather, the synchronicity that the team had playing with one another is what will help them grow not only as individuals but as the team overall.

According to Basketball For Coaches, when playing team sports there are “plenty of mistakes that accumulate to decide the final score of the game.” Because of this, there is never just one particular play that made for a loss. When this is realized, the team can walk away from the loss not only having grown stronger with their gameplay but stronger as teammates as well. And this is what will build and continue to grow a “great team environment,” per the publication.

#3-Do Not Criticize Teammates Who Made Mistakes

Mistakes are going to be made by everyone who plays sports. No one, regardless of how good they are, is perfect. It is because of this that critical comments should not be made, especially when trying to cultivate a team of good teammates. There is no room for team criticism in team sports. If it is happening, it is a symptom of an unhealthy “culture” around the team, meaning that negative versus positive coaching and sportsmanship is occurring.

It is hard enough to have the opposite team call out a bad play. However, when it feels like the team is not behind the member who may not have made the best choice at the moment, all that does is serve to bring the team morale down. When this happens, there is no chance of good teammates being made and likely there is no team versus the individual mindset occurring either.

#2-Always Do Your Best

It may sound overly simplified, but being a good teammate means getting out on the field and giving it everything the player has each and every time. It may not earn the team a ‘W’ but every player can leave knowing that they did everything in their power to try to make that win happen.

When players do their best, it can not only raise the team morale, it can also “raise the level of play” of the team overall. This is done by showing up, putting in the work, and having healthy competition for the game. By consistently doing the best that can possibly be done, the team morale is raised, the level of play is raised, and strong teammates are built. Even if a win does not happen, the team leaves strong with all of the positive support built by learning to be a good teammate.

#1- Be A Gracious Winner & A Good Loser

Having good sportsmanship is a sign that there is a positive culture that surrounds the team and that good teammates are a part of it. Because of this, regardless of the outcome, there will not be any gloating or sulking by members of the team.

When teammates can come together and shake off a loss to still congratulate the other team on their victory, a strong foundation of what it means to be a good teammate has been learned. Conversely, when there is a win and the team does not boast about it to the other team but is instead gracious, the same can be said.

Additional Resources

Ideas for the Holidays

As most of you will be seeing this in early December, I thought I might provide a few holiday gift ideas for the soccer readers out there.

The Kicks Series
by Alex Morgan
The Kicks is Morgan’s middle grade series about a girls’ soccer team, The Kentville Kangaroos — a.k.a. The Kicks. Set in California, where Morgan is from, the books cover familiar territory — the power of friendship, the importance of teamwork — with rich soccer details from someone who knows the game inside and out. New York Times bestseller; six in all.


Outcasts United: The Story of a Refugee Soccer Team That Changed a Town
by Warren St. John
Outcasts United is the true story of a group of refugee children from around the world who come together to play soccer in Clarkston, a suburb of Altanta, Georgia. They call themselves The Fugees, and their story, along with their female coach, touches on race, politics, and religion. This is an adaptation of St. John’s bestselling book of the same name for adults.


Soccer IQ: Things That Smart Players Do, Vol. 1
 by Dan Blank


The Beautiful Game – The Most Amazing Soccer Stories Of All Time
by Michael Langdon
Whether you’re a die-hard soccer fan or just enjoy a good story, The Beautiful Game is sure to keep you entertained. From Maradona’s hand goal to Zidane’s headbutt, and a lot more lesser-known stories in between, there’s something for everyone in this book. With 90 fascinating stories, you’ll relive the most humorous and inspirational anecdotes to have come out from the Beautiful Game, and in the process, you will learn more about the sport than you ever thought!

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