Monday, August 13, 2018

What is a team?


If you search the dictionary you get this:

1): a number of persons associated together in work or activity; such as a: a group on one side (as in football or a debate); b: crew, gang
2)  a: two or more draft animals harnessed to the same vehicle or implement; also: these with their harness and attached vehicle; b: a draft animal often with harness and vehicle

If you search Wikipedia, you get this:
A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a goal. A group does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
When I think of team, I think of great teammates fighting together for a common goal and becoming so close as a group that the members become lifelong friends.

As a now retired multi-sport athlete, I can recall many great teammates that I still talk to, see and consider close friends. I had teammates in my wedding, I’ve gotten those calls for help from teammates because they knew I would help out and I’ve called on them for help many times and have always had their support. I’ve been at teammates funerals and wept for their loss.

I’ve always said that once a teammate, always a teammate. That is the bond that teammates share.

Why am I discussing this? I have had many bad teammates over the years and now as a parent of a young athlete, and a coach of multiple teams I have seen a few that clearly didn’t understand the role a teammate is supposed to take on. I have had to try to walk young players through the mine field of emotions that come with being unsure of how to respond to someone who in their own life is struggling to figure it all out.

Let me go back to some advice I gave another team who asked my opinion.

Years ago, an adult women’s team was debating at a dinner function, on whether or not to ask a certain talented player to play with them. They argued for and against for at least an hour. At one point, the ladies turned their attention towards me since I had been sitting and listening the entire time. Having known me for several years, I’m assuming they felt confident I would give good advice. I’m not sure if I did, but I offered my opinion none the less.

My opinion was, team cohesion ranked higher to me than talent. I suggested that if they had to argue for that long over whether a talented player should be asked to play, then the team, as a whole, would suffer because many clearly didn’t like her character. I can’t tell you what their end decision was, but what I can tell you is the most successful teams I have ever been a part of didn’t bicker, didn’t openly question the coach’s decisions and NEVER had dissension between players. We supported each other and made decisions that put our team first, and not the individual.

So why did I start this article with “What is a team?” Instead of “What is a teammate?”

For that answer let’s go to the second definition of team:
two or more draft animals harnessed to the same vehicle or implement; also: these with their harness and attached vehicle; b: a draft animal often with harness and vehicle
If we look at ourselves as a “team” we are harnessed together to the vehicle of the team as a whole. If we do not work together and pull the same direction, the vehicle or implement doesn’t move forward. We have no growth and, in many cases, don’t move at all.

Members of the team don’t need to like each other but need to understand they are either striving to reach a common goal that helps all of us succeed or personal goals that only benefit the individual. 
The latter keeps the team from moving forward.

The Wikipedia definition describes exactly what I am saying:

A team is a group of individuals working together to achieve a goal. A group does not necessarily constitute a team. A team works to maximize the strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

If you are pulling against the team, you are not a team, you are a group. And you will not succeed as an individual or as a group.

Coach Quinn: Currently the hitting coach for a baseball program that is nationally ranked. He calls baseball and softball “Family Sports”. He has over 40 years playing and coaching experience. His wife was an all state and all met pitcher, and his oldest daughter was a high school fastpitch player. He has a stepson who played college baseball and making an appearance in the Collegiate World Series and has now gone on to be a college coach himself, and his youngest daughter is a short stop who wants to be a college fast pitch player playing in a nationally known program and is being recruited by several schools as a high school sophomore. Coach Quinn has been at his current school for 12 years where they have won two conference championships, and two state championships. As a player he was a catcher ,and third baseman. Coach Quinn and his wife are also in the Washington Metro Area Slowpitch Softball Hall of Fame as players.

Coach Quinn has provided hitting instruction to the Firebirds organization and can be reached at betterhitter@gmail.com.