“Sports build character.”
This statement has been a driving force behind getting children engaged in team sports for as long as I can remember. Being on a team can help develop communication, problem-solving, relationship building, —— But being a good teammate does not come naturally, nor easily. And, if we don’t help with it the “Character” they build could be a bad one.
Most parents, and coaches as well, have likely experienced the season where there may have been skillful and effect players, but there weren’t many good teammates. Poor attitudes, selfish play, outbursts, constant blaming, players making fun of their teammates, and other negative factors can lead to a bad experience and a long season.
This past month all of our coaches and teams returned to practices, working to improve the skills needed to succeed in the game. Dribbling, passing, receiving, shooting, and other elements of the game are being taught, demonstrated, encouraged, and practiced in order to help players excel and become their best. In order for players to develop good character and become good teammates our players need similar practice, guidance, encouragement, and modeling from parents, coaches, and other players on the components of a good teammate as well.
So what characteristics are we looking for in a “Good Teammate”?
I would suggest that coaches take 5-10 minutes before an upcoming practice and put this question to their players. What would they like to see, hear, or experience from a good teammate? What words or actions do they associate with a poor teammate? How does each of them demonstrate being a good teammate. You can use their responses to layout a framework to guide your season.
The Positive Coaching Alliance put together a long framework for “What Makes a Great Teammate” in 2017. You can view the entire list by clicking on the link above. I recently came across a blog: Coffee and Carpools, which explored the topic and some of the characteristics from the PCA article. For this discussion I would like to present five of those characteristics (adapted from the article) for us to focus on.
- Good teammates are positive, supportive, and encouraging on and off the field.
- A good teammate hustles and gives it their all at practices and games. Despite their ability level, place on the team, or the outcome.
- A good teammate shows respect and good sportsmanship.
- A good teammate is generous and shows humility.
- Help your teammates in need.
Coaches and Parents Role in Developing Better Teammates
As mentioned previously, a good starting place for coaches (and even parents,) is to get the players talking about what it means to be a good teammate. Once this is established the next step is to follow through on demonstrating, encouraging, practicing, and modeling the characteristics of a good teammate. Here are some suggestions on how.
- Model appropriate “Good Teammate” characteristics for your players
- Praise your player or child, and encourage them to praise their teammates or friends
- Prioritize the importance of a positive attitude over the outcome of the game
- Parents and family members can model what good teammate behavior looks like in activities or games off the field. Backyard games, board games, and other activities requiring teamwork can present great moments to focus on teammate characteristics
- Families can watch games together and point out when there is a good display of sportsmanship. Coaches can do this with players during their own game, during film study, or when having the team watch another team play.
- Thought Starters-You can ask self-reflection questions to get players in the mindset of being a good teammate. Instead of asking questions about their performance, get them thinking about their attitude, demeanor, and energy with the other players on their team. For example,
- “How do you feel when you think positively even if your team is losing?”
- “How can you support your teammates when they are down?”
- “What’s a time today that you really showed you’re a good teammate?”
- “Who is the best teammate on your team and why?”
We hope this helps and look forward to seeing some great Kings Hammer teammates on the fields at all of our practices and games this season!
- Positive Coaching Alliance-What Makes a Great Teammate
- Very Well-How to Teach Your Child to Be a Good Teammate
- Coffee and Carpool-How to Help Kids be a Good Teammate
- USA Volleyball-TrueSport: What To Do If Your Child Isn’t a Team Player
Easy Ways to Engage in Being a Good Teammate
Characteristic #1 Positive and Encouraging
- That was a great idea.
- You’ll get it next time
- You were so close.
- Nice hustle, you were really working hard.
- That was almost in
- We’ll get it next time
Characteristic #2 Effort
- Challenge self and teammates to get better each day
- Lead by example
Characteristic #3 Respect/Sportsmanship
- First to say hello to coaches and teammates (not just your friends)
- Eyes on the coach, paying attention, and listening
- high five each other and the opposing team with grace
- say “good game” and mean it
- don’t put down others who do well, or make fun of those who struggle or fail
- take responsibility for performances, don’t blame others or claim others must have cheated
- Clean up after every practice, game, or event
Characteristic #4 Humble and Generous
- Whether the star or a role player, the team comes first
- Passing improves teamwork, increases confidence, and creates success
- Share successes and willingly accept failures
Characteristic # 5 Help Others
- Show a trick or a new skill to help a teammate get better.
- Stick out your hand to pull a teammate up when they fall.
- Loaning equipment to a teammate when they need it.
- Remind a teammate of their role, positioning, or action when they are unsure
- Volunteer to practice with a teammate so you both get better.