How to be the Ultimate Team Player

There's not many things that coaches love more than having a player who is 100% committed and is a great teammate. I call these type of athletes "ultimate team players" because they do everything they can to help the team succeed. These types of players are very valuable, even if they're not very talented physically. This is because they make everyone around them better and contribute to team success in many different ways besides from just their individual stats.

So how do you become the ultimate team player? It all starts with your goals. You have to want to become the ultimate team player. And to become the ultimate team player, the compass that guides you must be team success. Do whatever it takes to help your team succeed as much as you possibly can. In order to do this, you must know what actually helps teams succeed. Here are characteristics of ultimate team players. Memorize them and emulate them so you can become the ultimate team player.

They value team success over individual success. They would rather see the team succeed than see only themselves succeed. Many athletes may say they value team success over individual success but not all of these athletes are telling the truth. For instance, many athletes have their own agendas, or goals. They want playing time. They want a starting position. This is natural and fine, but if this desire is too strong, you can sometimes act too selfishly. For example, if you really want to be the starting QB on your team, you may not want to train with your teammate who is competing for the same position. You may fear that if you train with him (during the off-season), they may get better than you and take the position from you. You may even play politics with the coaching staff to try to win the starting position. This type of behavior isn't best for the team as a whole. The team would be better off if both QBs trained together and pushed each other to improve at a faster rate and let the truly better QB win the job. If you selfishly try to take the starting job from a teammate who deserved it more, you are hurting your team. The ultimate team player does not do this. If it helps their team, they will allow their better teammate to play above them and they will accept their role as a back up. They will even do their best to help the starter succeed. They don't hope their teammates fail (or even get injured) like some athletes do. While on the court/field, ultimate team players play in a way that best helps the team succeed. They share the ball. They accept their role and don't worry about getting the credit.

All of this does not mean that the ultimate team player does not care about individual success. They still do. They have their own individual goals and they care about improving themselves. They just value team success more than individual success. They try to reach individual success within the framework of team success. When these two desires are at conflict, they choose team success over individual success. Ironically, many ultimate team players improve themselves better than players who only care about themselves. This is because ultimate team players know that an improved individual helps the team. This leads into the next characteristic of ultimate team players.

Ultimate team players help their teammates improve and they are good leaders. Since they know that better individuals help make the team as a whole better, they are eager to reach out to their teammates to help them. Since they know that a team is "only as strong as the weakest link," they mentor young teammates and encourage struggling teammates. They are vocal leaders and also lead by example to help the team.

These are the general guidelines to becoming the ultimate team player:
  • Value team success over individual success
  • Do whatever it takes (legally) to help your team succeed, on and off the court/field.
  • Work hard and improve yourself
  • Help your teammates improve
  • Be a leader
If you become the ultimate team player, not only will you experience more team success, but you'll have lots of individual success as well. First of all, your coach will love you. You may not always have the most playing time as an ultimate team player, but you'll never be cut from the team. Also, your coach will most likely recommend you to other coaches to help you reach higher levels of your sport.