10 Lessons about Teamwork

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As you may know, I’ve been playing volleyball for almost a year now. Within this time, I’ve learned a lot of stuff about the game… but most importantly, how a team works. Here are the top 10 most valuable things I’ve learned that can apply to any team environment/culture.

1. Communication is a team skill.
Communication is key for any team, since the ball will be touched by multiple people every play. Communication prevents accidents, helps team moral, and shows leadership. Help others communicate—it’s a skill that is rarely praised. To be good communicator is to be a good team player.

2. Chemistry is everything.
Everyone feels uncomfortable playing with strangers, and that can have a serious effect on how the game goes. I’ve played with teams that had great chemistry, and have lost… but I’d play with them again anytime. On the other hand, I’ve played with people who have terrible attitudes, and I’ll be avoiding them next time at all costs. Be sensitive to how you play with people… even the smallest things can help or hurt chemistry. A high five here and there goes a long way.

3. Play with passion.
As I was playing one evening, one of the coaches was watching us from the sidelines. He yelled at me “Come on Jeff, play with PASSION!”. I’m not sure exactly what that meant at the time, but I crushed the **** out of the ball. I think what he meant was to play as if it was your last game… and not just another day of exercise. As they say, “love is the most important ingredient in any recipe”.

4. Hustling inspires others.
When you see someone hustling, I mean really hustling, it makes you want to play better. When I see someone haul ass and chase a ball down, it makes me want to pass better. It makes me want to return the favor.

5. Minimize errors.
It’s bad for team moral when you have errors. When you work hard to dig a ball up or try to put it away, it’s demoralizing to have someone on your team throw away a point. When you serve the ball into the net, shank a pass, or screw up consistently, it tells your team members that you don’t care about their hard work. Errors will happen, but you have to minimize them by focusing and keeping your head in the game. When people pass perfectly or make a kill, make sure to give them a shout out. Perfection is challenging.

6. No complaining while you’re playing.

7. Shake hands.
When you’re finished with a game, always thank your team and the others. Good sportsmanship goes a long way, and the chances are, you’ll probably play with the same people again in the future.

8. Stack up your team.
If you want to get better, you should play with better people. If you stack, you’ll probably win. While most people may say winning all the time is not good, I disagree. By winning, you have room to experiment—you can take more risk. By playing with better people, you’ll pick up new tricks and good habits.

9. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.
You have two options: a) take one step closer to them and give a friendly nudge, or b) don’t play with that person. If that person is willing to learn, and will hustle, I recommend A. If they’re just standing around and show no effort, I’d probably pick B (to avoid a head ache. heh)

10. Have fun.
You’ll hear this a lot… but if you can do all the things above, and have fun as well, I think you’ll be stellar at anything you do. Take the successful things you learn from your sports and hobbies and apply them to your life. And don’t forget to share!

I’d like to thank some people for inspiring me to be a better player. They may or may not read my blog… but I wanted to give them a shout out for sharing their love of the game with me: Alan, Alysse, Kristan, Jon Lewis, Jon Sang, the Padeway brothers, and Stephen McGuiness.

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