5 Ways to Be a Team Player



By Jaimie Duffek, Senior Softball Recruiting Coach

I know this may sound cheesy, but any time I talk about my college experience, 99% of the time my teammates are brought up in conversation. One of the reasons I chose to play softball at Drake University was because of the TEAM!

I grew up playing for high school and travel teams that were close knit and that was something I valued dearly at the college level. Throughout my high school and college careers, I was able to learn a few life lessons along the way. One of the best lessons: The importance of loyalty and being a good teammate.

What is loyalty and why is it important?

We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no trust without loyalty!” So, what does a loyal teammate look like? A loyal teammate is always looking out for what is best for her teammates, no matter what. In team sports you have to know you can count on your teammates.

Loyalty is powerful, and it can move teams toward remarkable accomplishments! Being a great teammate is about more than just being a “good person.” Being a good teammate creates a positive culture for everyone. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said, “One man can be a crucial ingredient to a team, but one man cannot make a team.”

How can you be a better teammate and a team player?

Trust your teammates unconditionally. We need to know we can count on one another. When we know this, magical things can happen! Trust me—we’re more likely to go the extra mile when we’re all working towards the same goal. You don’t have to be best friends off the field, but you must respect one another. You may not always agree or see eye-to-eye, but true athletes and competitors leave everything but their sport on the ball field.

Talk to your teammates and not about them. There will always be teammates who talk about one another: DO NOT succumb to this. Be the bigger person and stay out of the drama. The foundation of a lot of great teams is the willingness to be open and honest with one another. Hash it out and move on!

Care about their success. Encourage your teammates! Be a cheerleader for each other. It’s also important to know your teammates’ strengths and areas of improvement. Always encourage their best effort. If they are having a tough game, pick them up! Sometimes the little things matter the most; that pat on the back, hug or high five really can make a world of difference.

Put the team’s agenda ahead of your own. Softball is not a one-woman sport. Remember the mission of the team and share in that vision! Be there to remind your teammates of the mission when things get rough or go south. Be there to support and push each other to achieve the teams’ goals. On the flip side, you should be holding yourself accountable, too. Admit mistakes, improve, take responsibility, be willing to play any role on the team that’s needed.

Work hard and give your maximum effort. Work to get 1% better each day. Know that the effort you give at practice and in games is always in your control! Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile at practice and set an example for your other teammates. To give anything less than your best would be letting your team and coaches down. Remember: Positivity and hard work is infectious. Be the one to set the standard for the team.

Keep in mind that everyone has the capability to be a great teammate—even if you aren’t the best person on the team. As you get older, being a good teammate is not only applicable in your sport, but also in life.

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