At Standout, we focus most of our efforts helping coaches and players fine-tune their individual skills on the diamond. After all, baseball is an individual game masked as a team sport. We challenge kids to "do their best and forget the rest’" and learn how to repeat movements time and again until they have them perfected. This is awesome stuff, but being a talented ballplayer will only get you so far in this game. Players need to be great at being a teammate too!
"You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime." - Babe Ruth
The Babe said this almost 100 years ago, and it stands true today. Here are four simple tips on how we can all learn to be a great teammate.
Give your best effort
This should be pretty simple, right? Players need to come to the park and give their best. Baseball is a tough game, and teammates will benefit from seeing their peers trying hard and working to improve. Effort can be contagious, but remember, so can lack of effort! Giving your best does not always equate to success on GameChanger, but it resonates in a dugout of peers.
Congratulate success of others
When a player does something well, let them know! We want this game to be fun and part of that is being recognized for doing something well. A pat on the back or a high five after a great defensive play goes a long way, and that is true for 5 year olds all the way up to the pros. Nothing makes me happier as a coach than seeing our players run over to their teammate for a high five after making a great play.
You and your teammates have worked hard all season on baseball defense drills in practice. You know what? Errors are still going to happen. Even Dansby Swanson made 8 errors last season on his way to winning a Gold Glove as the best defensive shortstop in the NL. When a teammate makes a mistake, don’t make it worse. Pick your teammate up and let them know they will get the next one.
Put WE before ME
As coaches, we must build a culture on our teams that the team success is greater than individual success. Sometimes we need a player to get a bunt down when they want to go for the double in the gap. Players need to believe that the bunt they laid down was every bit as great as the double they wanted to hit. This type of team attitude not only leads to wins on the field, but more importantly, helps players learn the value of teamwork, and this lesson can be applied well beyond the baseball field.
So remember- it is not always about stats or wins. Let’s build a culture where our players learn the value of working together and supporting each other.
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