The success of your team is based not only on how well you play, but also on how well your teammates play. Although you may perform at a high level, possibly to the best of your ability, do you also help your teammates reach their potential?
If you’re one of the more talented and experienced players on your team, you’re likely in a position to exercise team leadership. One way to lead is to do so by example. If a talented player demonstrates a positive attitude and work ethic, other players will tend to follow this example. Some players will also watch how you play and naturally pick up on some of your skills and techniques.
But beyond setting an example, what else can you do?
Help Your Teammates Improve Their PlayAs a player, you have a unique advantage over your coach—you're out there on the court or field interacting with your teammates during each moment of the game. You have the opportunity to advise and “teach” your lesser skilled teammates as game events occur.
Just like a good coach, you need to understand how to best communicate information to your teammates. Pick key moments, provide constructive comments and direction, reinforce positive plays by your lesser skilled teammates, and avoid negative comments. Hand out praise (“Nice pass/shot,” etc.) But above all—communicate.
You may find some players very open to learning from you. Take a few minutes before or after practice and help these players improve a skill or correct a bad habit.
Defend Your Weaker TeammatesBesides helping your teammates improve as players, there’s another important area in which your leadership can make a difference. In neighborhood games, locker rooms, and other group situations, you will sometimes witness a weaker boy (or girl) become the subject of another kid’s poor joke, intimidation, hazing or other demeaning behavior. It’s easy to sit back, not risk your standing within the group, and let events like this unfold to their unfortunate conclusion. It’s also an opportunity, however, for you to demonstrate one of the more noble aspects of superior leadership—that the strong help the weak. Speak up and tell others to knock it off.
If you've ever been picked on and had someone else come to your defense, you know how you felt afterwards toward your protector. He or she earned your admiration and loyalty. Not only is defending others in these situations the right thing to do, but it also can boost your standing among your peers. Everyone respects the person who stands up to the bully or “mean girl.”
Rise above your own individual game and comfort zone and help your teammates whenever possible. In addition to benefiting your own self-interest by improving your team, you may find that your leadership efforts also reward you with a sense of satisfaction in helping others achieve.
Copyright © 2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads. All Rights Reserved