Characteristics of Great Teammates

        On most teams you'll find great teammates.  What constitutes a great teammate varies depending on who you ask.  Like many of the other concepts we have discussed, being a great teammate is something most of us would agree is important.  With the beginning of the baseball season upon us, most teams begin a shift away from the focus on individual development of the offseason to a renewed focus on the team.  Now is when you really find out who is "we over me" as the lineups are made and adversity is faced.  This made me think of creating another list.  The list will follow the pattern of the Mentally Tough Baseball Players List of being mostly shorter posts with examples.  Some of the characteristics will seem obvious, and some won't.  Some will be based on my study of sport psychology, but many will be based on experiences as a player and coach.  Like any other list of this sort, there will be some facts and some opinions.  Feel free to agree or disagree, but my hope is that the list will lead to some discussion within your teams and teammates, as well as reflection within yourself.

        #1: Great teammates don't hold each other responsible for an individual's personal situation.

        Great teammates don't hold each other responsible for an individual's personal situation.  This can work a number of ways, but I have two basic examples to illustrate my point.  The first is the player who finds himself without the role he was hoping for on the team.  Maybe he is not a starter after working hard and giving it everything he's got.  There are different ways to react to this sort of situation.  Some are productive, and some aren't.  An unproductive way would be to pout, feel sorry for himself, and to be mad at the guy who is starting over him.  As irrational as this sort of response is, it happens often.  Think about it for a second.  Did your teammate make the lineup?  No.  If he did, however, he probably still would have written his name instead of yours.  He is your teammate, but he wants to play as much as you do.  Don't blame him for your personal situation.  Accept it, free yourself up to have a productive response instead (more on that in a future post), and be a great teammate!

        A variation of the second example of a teammate holding another teammate responsible for a personal situation happens far too often during games.  Player A is starting, has a bad at-bat, and strikes out.  He comes in the dugout pissed off.  Player B is not starting and is trying to be a great teammate.  He tells Player A that it is okay, that he'll get him next time, and attempts to dap him up.  Player B snubs him or fires some sort of profanity-laced comment back at Player A.  This is holding a teammate responsible for your personal situation and is a selfish response.  Player B didn't make Player A have a bad at-bat.  Why get mad at him?  He's trying to be a great teammate.  Player B probably would have liked to have the at-bat Player A just had, and Player A certainly is not making that any easier to deal with.  Accept the support, and be a great teammate.

        The two examples I gave take a look at players in the two generic situations of starter and non-starter.  That was purposeful.  Among great teams, there are great teammates.  Anyone can be a great teammate regardless of ability level or role within the team.  All should be held accountable for the specific behavior and characteristics of a great teammate.  It's much easier to focus on and notice "guy on bench" and his response to not playing.  Let's not forget the responsibility of the guy playing as well.  His should be equal in expectations.  

        I hope you enjoyed this first in a mini-series.  Do you have other examples of teammates holding each other responsible for a personal situation?  I'd love to hear them.  Tweet them to me @Coach_Ehrlich, or shoot me an email  Best of skill with your seasons getting going.  Hopefully you have prepared and can go out and enjoy the year.


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