Most of us have played on teams since childhood so we have gotten accustomed
to the pre-season when first joining a team and getting to know the other
players. It's during this time period when first impressions are made that set the tone for the entire season. It's important to make a good one.
Year after year and team after team– there are similarities between
each as far as team dynamics go. I’ve been a part of teams since birth, and I’ve
also gotten to coach, so I’ve seen both sides and can bring a perspective that
a lot of players might not have.
In that time, I’ve learned that no matter what the player’s background
is or how good he is, each can always be a better teammate – and that can start
Here are five steps to being a better teammate:
This is the big one. Regardless of who is on the team, players can
always learn from each other. Lose the ego, listen to the teammate, be appreciative
for his thoughts and consider what is said. Maybe it wasn’t great, maybe it
won’t work, but players won’t know if they don’t listen. It's also a great way to get a better understanding of that player.
The best team wins – not always the best players.
We know that a team full of good players will beat a team of bad players.
Considering team practices, and because it’s usually done as a unit, the best
way for a player to enhance individual skills is to hit the ice on his own and
Let’s say a team practices three times per week and two hours each
practice. In those six hours, how much time will focus on individual skills?
And I don’t mean scrimmaging – I mean focused skating, stickhandling, or
goaltending? In order to become better, players need to get out and work on their
skills. Maybe there is a bit of ice time available before or after practice.
Maybe there are available ice slots on the off days. Players have to make time
each day to work on their game. How long? Try to get in a minimum of 90 minutes. If ice is not available, get outside with a stick and ball. Perfection is the goal and it’s this kind of constant work ethic that gets
players the furthest. It's also the dedication to individual development that helps the collective team get better.
A team of players that support each other will be successful, and have
more fun, than a team full of individuals who are more tuned into their own
individual performances and statistics. Supporting teammates is that compliment
when they make a good play. Congratulate them. When they make a bad play? Offer
constructive direction and get them to move forward. The teammate knows he made
a mistake and likely already beating themselves up about it. So try to say something that lifts their spirit for the next shift.
It’s easy to do this. Instead of focusing on the negative, try turning
the focus being positive.
In order to be a part of the team, it’s good to know what the player’s role
is and what the team can expect. Some teams have captain’s rules – which can be
useful. Basically the rules like each player has to be at every practice,
meeting, and workout. In the case when players are unable to attend, he has to
let one of the captains know ahead of time. It comes down to being honest with
the rest of the team. Step up and help out the coaches and equipment managers
as much as possible. Trying to coach and operate any team all at once is not
easy. Players that help with the little things are appreciated. Players
should do whatever to help out…even if just grabbing the water bottles or pucks
before or after practice.
Above all, just be honest and accountable.
In an effort to help keep players committed to the team and to stay
motivated, it is useful to define individual goals. Share these goals with the
captains and maybe even the coach. This comes down to each player being realistic about what is being brought to the team based on existing individual skills and what development
can occur during the season. Players can use this time to discuss individual skill
development plans, promise to bring consistency to the team, and that they can expect
that he will get better as a player.
There are certainly other ways to become a better teammate. Take these
five tips to heart as I feel they are the most important to improving an individual’s
play, his role as a teammate, and each team overall.
What other tips would you offer to players to become better teammates?
Comments are more than welcome.
* Disclaimer: This site may contain advice, opinions and statements from various authors and information providers. Views expressed in this article reflect the personal opinion of the author, Stephen Heisler, and not necessarily the views of JuniorHockey.ca. JuniorHockey.ca does not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other info provided in the article, or from any other member of this site.