How to Create the Ultimate Teammate / by James Leath

The subject of "creating culture" has been buzzing as of late so I thought I would share a couple notes on ways I have found to create a fun and successful culture. Last week, I shared a way to get to know your players and make them feel part of the team. If you missed it, here is the link. Today, I will share with you how to set appropriate expectations for what kind of teammates your athletes will be. As always, I encourage your feedback and hope you will share with me strategies you have found to be successful.

Create the Ultimate Teammate Download: Team Commitment Template- 2015

Young players do not have the experience to know what a great teammate is. As the coach, it is your job to promote the behaviors you wish to see by consistently modeling them and explaining them. If you see a behavior by one of your athletes during a game it is because you either taught it or allowed it at practice. Therefore, be aware of how your athletes are developing emotionally and do everything you can to set the right example.

Have your team sit on the floor in a circle. This works best with smaller teams like basketball or volleyball. If you have a larger team, split them up into offense and defense, or send them to this exercise with their position coach. Ask them one simple question: what is the best attribute a teammate can have? Here is what my paper looked like last year.



Here is a breakdown of what we did:

  1. I asked everyone to think of one trait the perfect teammate would possess. These were 6th-grade girls so it took a while for them to warm up, but it was worth the wait. If a team member had the same trait in mind as another, I asked her to think of something else. Once they got going, I had to cut them off.

  2. I wrote them down on the left and the right of the page then asked them to commit to being these things this year. This was also a great time to learn what the attributes they may have never heard of actually meant. Each one signed, even myself.

  3. Lastly, we spent a few minutes coming up with a team yell. We would use this for the rest of the season. We were given the mascot "Suns" so it had to be something that had to do with the sun. After a few minutes, collaboratively, we came up with "Fun in the Sun". I wrote that in the middle of the paper and we practiced.

This experience will help bond your team and aid in creating a sense of ownership for your athletes. Your athletes just gave you the qualities you can now hold them accountable to. However, a great coach knows they need to also model what they preach. As a team, you now have a shared understanding of terminology and what the ideal teammate is like. These become reasons to give awards later. Catch them being good.

I want to see your lists! Share them with me on twitter @jamesleath.