Growing up I was worried about winning games. Obsessed actually. I thought by being the strongest or fastest on field that I was being the best teammate I could be. It’s taken many years to understand that the most winning (and enjoyable) teams I’ve been on are made up of talented individuals who truly care about each other. This ability to be good teammates, to create lasting relationships is at the foundation of all great teams. It’s what sets them apart from the teams with simply great athletes.
Luckily, being a great teammate is a mindset, not an innate skill - you don’t have to be the most talented member of the team to have the biggest impact. What’s more, we’ll be on many teams in our lives that we may not even think of as teams: Relationships, jobs, committees, clubs. Heck, even just planning for Lei-Out is a team sport these days. So there are plenty of chances to practice your skills.
Without further ado, here some simple mindset strategies collected through the years to help you be the best teammate you can be.
Develop real relationships.
This one of the easiest and most effective strategies out there. Just spend quality time with your teammates. It could be going to dinner, doing a pair workout, adventuring around, really anything that takes you off the field and into a deeper understanding of where your teammates are coming from. In college (Go Strata!) we had buddy pairs that had built-in check-ins, dinners and more.
Bring others up.
Being a constant stream of encouragement and support to others is a gamechanger, on and off the field. You know that friend who’s always able to make you smile, even when you’ve got a final and you’re not prepared and life feels terrible? This mindset involves having that friend with you at all times - metaphorically speaking of course. Missed a disc? Teammate got foot-blocked in the red zone? Channel this mindset, support others with encouraging words, and you can’t go wrong.
Be willing to accept feedback from the team.
Another way to say this is being coachable. It means you’re self aware and able to learn from situations. I still struggle with this one every day, both in life and sports. It’s a tricky balance to maintain confidence in your ability, but also be open to change. But putting one's ego aside shows your teammates that you put the team's goals above your own pride. At the core of this strategy is leaving room for the possibility that there's something you haven't learned yet that could make you even better.
Always be preparing.
Frisbee (and life) is a game of preparation. Make it easier on yourself and your team by preparing early so that the big events go smoothly; turn buddy gift shopping into a group activity instead of a chore right before the big tournament. Lay out your uniform the night before a tournament. Basically think about what you can do ahead of time so that you can be 100% present as a teammate whenever possible.
Be willing to play any role on the team.
In college I was used to being one of the best defensive players we had. Then came club tryouts and I realized I had a hell of a long way to go. I didn’t have much of a game-time role that first year on Brute, but I did get to learn how to own the sidelines. I also had an invaluable first-hand view on how some of the best players in the world worked their on-field magic, and I was able to take this forward into my playing career. If you’re willing to take on and excel within the boundaries of any role, you’ll get to experience new learnings on every team.
Yep, pretty simple right? But this mindset strategy is perhaps the most important of all. Maybe it’s going to a practice you’d rather skip, or bringing a little pick-me-up to a teammate who’s down - it shows you care about them, and that you’re on board with the group mentality. You’ll be surprised at how much this means to your teammates, and once you start practicing it, you’ll notice how meaningful it is when others do the same.
Remember, being a great teammate on and off the field is the greatest impact you can have on your team, and you don’t have to be the star player to practice it. And guess what, you’ve got a lifetime to get better.
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OVER TO YOU
What things do you do to support your awesome teammate? What are some amazing qualities of your favorite squad mate? Let us know how you can bring out the best in your team in the comments below!