A successful team is defined by more than just wins and losses. It’s about “we” over “me.” It’s about leadership. And it’s a collection of good teammates who consistently do the right thing and support one another.
What makes a great teammate? Let’s walk through a list. You’ll see that many, if not all, of these qualities also apply to leadership.
1. Do What’s Best for the Team
What’s best for the team may not be what you think is best for you.
You may not get to play the position that you want to play. But you have teammates who may be as good or better at that position.
You may not get to hit where you want to hit in the order. But every spot in the order is important.
You may need to sit the bench more often than you’d like. But you need rest, and it gives your teammates opportunities to play.
You may be asked to play somewhere new that makes you uncomfortable. But doing so may make the team better — and may actually make you a more well-rounded player.
Even though I’m not a big bunting coach, bunting is a great example of putting personal stats aside in an effort to do what the coach thinks will help the team win.
A great teammate rolls with the punches, works hard, does what’s asked of him, and does what is best for his team.
2. Support a Struggling Teammate
Everyone will have a slump. Every player will go through times when they are down or doubt themselves. It’s important that slumping players have teammates who support and encourage them.
Baseball is a mental game. Confidence and belief in self are big predictors of success. For a team to succeed, confidence level of each player is important. Teammates who recognize their role in supporting each other are critical.
3. Celebrate a Successful Teammate
Another way to keep morale high is helping a teammate celebrate his success. A big hit, nice play, or good inning on the mound is noticed and recognized by a good teammate. Even recognizing the little things that may go unnoticed like hustle and communication. That appreciation means something.
4. Be Humble When You Succeed
When you do something great and memorable, celebrate it in the moment. But don’t forget the team focus.
Avoid talking about your stats. Especially avoid comparing yourself to teammates and putting others down.
After a tough loss in which you played well, what is your demeanor? Are you smiling and wanting to talk to teammates about your great game? Or is your focus on the team?
The high performer who quietly goes about his business is often the best teammate.
5. Keep Your Head Up When You Struggle
As mentioned before, baseball is a mental game. How we handle adversity is important.
When you make a mistake or struggle, do you put your head down? Do you pout? Do you separate yourself from teammates? Do you throw equipment?
Body language is contagious. If you react to struggles — team or personal — negatively, your teammates will see it as license to do the same. If you keep your head up and remain positive, your teammates are more likely to follow suit.
6. Be Steady
Somewhat related to the last two, but a good teammate doesn’t get too high or too low. They are focused and consistent.
7. Be Dependable
A good teammate is there when you need him. This could relate to attendance at practices and games. It also could relate to playing through tough times.
When you struggle on the mound, do you fake an arm injury to make an excuse for your performance? Or do you keep fighting?
Do you keep fighting through exhaustion, bumps, and bruises? Or do you complain about them and allow it to affect your performance?
This, of course, isn’t related to actual injuries.
8. Lead By Example
While leading by example certainly consists of doing the things on this list, it’s also about doing the right thing. It’s about working hard when no one’s watching. It’s about choosing the positive action when the negative may be easier. It’s about sportsmanship and preparation.
9. Step Up When the Pressure is On
When the going gets tough, what do you do? Do you want the ball? Do you want that moment? Or do you hope the ball doesn’t find you? Hope that the ball goes to a teammate instead?
Good teammates, particularly leaders, are those who want that moment. They don’t shy from it. They aren’t fearful of failure. They understand that someone on the team needs to do it, and they will volunteer.
10. Take Responsibility
Is your failure always someone else’s fault? The umpire? The coach? The weather? The field conditions?
A good teammate is one who doesn’t make excuses, though it may be the easier path. A good teammate takes responsibility for their performance, and uses external forces as a challenge.
What other characteristics make for a good teammate? Anything you’d add to the list?
Let me know in the comments below!