Basketball players and especially young players, do not realize how valuable being a great teammate is. The older you get, the more examples of good or bad teammates you will personally experience.
If you think being a great basketball teammate won’t affect your playing time or job opportunities then you are fooling yourself. I have personally witnessed former teammates of mine that were so negative and destructive to their team that the coaches released them.
On the other hand, I have also seen players who weren’t the most talented but were amazing teammates go from being a walk-on player in college to gaining a one year scholarship offer.
The way you approach the game of basketball matters! The way you treat people matters!
Here’s some advice I have used personally and taken from great teammates of mine through my years as a basketball player.
Practice what you preach
Teammates will listen to you if they believe you “practice what you preach”. Don’t ask someone to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself.
Everyone makes mistakes
Basketball is an emotional game but don’t let emotions get the best of you. When your teammate makes a mistake, they aren’t doing so on purpose. Be slow to yell at them and quicker to pick them up with encouraging words. If they know you will have their back when they make mistakes, they will be more likely to have your back when you make a mistake.
Hold teammates accountable
Great teammates speak up when they know their teammate should be performing better or playing harder. Without belittling or degrading your teammates, make sure you hold them to a high standard.
No one plays great everyday, so having teammates uplift or help other teammates when they are struggling will ultimately help your overall team success. Accountability is a two way street. Make sure you accept constructive criticism from your teammates as well.
It’s easy to take responsibility when the team is winning and things are going well. But are you willing to accept responsibility when the team is losing and your teammates are pointing fingers at other people? You will gain more respect from coaches and teammates if you are willing to own up to your mistakes.
Be willing to set your teammates up for success. Making an extra pass, setting a screen to get your teammate or open, or even bringing a friend with you to get extra workouts in. The most successful teams are the ones who are the most selfless. Find ways to make your teammates better and more times than not, that thought process will become contagious and reciprocated.
Without respect, a relationship and a team will never reach its full potential. Every player on a team must have mutual respect for one another. This doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends.
The older you get, especially when athletes turn professional, you realize you're not going to be best friends and hang out with each one of your teammates all the time.
Most times, professional athletes only spend time with a few of their teammates outside of their practices and games. With that being said, respect should always be a common denominator amongst each player regardless of how close they are outside of games. Make sure you respect your coaches and teammates and demand the same in return.
Be as positive as you can be, as consistently as you can be. Nothing gets accomplished when a teammate is consistently focusing on the negatives without helping to find a solution. Be a teammate that brings positive energy everyday to the people around him.
No one wants to play alongside someone who is waiting to complain about this or that. Be mature in how you handle challenges and success. Consistency of positive attitude is what separates the great teammates from the average one.
This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people lie to their teammates or divert from the real issues at hand. Be a teammate that says what he means and means what he says. People will have more respect for you when they know you aren’t lying to them.
They say it takes years to build trust and a second to lose it. Make sure honesty becomes a non-negotiable aspect of your character. Lying should never be an option!
Overall, I hope these aspects of being a great teammate serves you well and brings out the best in you and your team. Continue to find ways to improve not just on the court but with your character as well. The older you get, the more valuable it is!
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