Teammates can bring a lot of different qualities to the table; everyone can contribute something
They are the ones working hard, motivating their teammates, showing respect, communicating in all phases of the game and leading by example.
Being a great teammate is a key attribute as a player continues to climb to higher levels of the game.
“I know when we’re dealing with our national teams and looking at teams, the value of being a good teammate is paramount,” USA Hockey ADM Regional Manager Dan Jablonic said. “What separates that level of skilled players is, do you make your teammates better?”
Kids need to be able to ask themselves: “What can I bring to my team vs. what is the team going to bring to me and what can I get out of the team?” Jablonic added.
Being a great teammate can be learned early on. It starts with having a positive attitude.
“A lot of things happen to you, you want things as a kid, and you can learn from your parents and your coaches that you don’t get everything, but just having that positive attitude where you’re excited,” Jablonic said. “That’s something where you use the old adage, ‘Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?’ People want to be around positive people, and the more you keep that mindset no matter the age or what’s thrown at you — you might lose a game or you might not win the battle — but that attitude you’re always working at it and you’re really having that long-term growth mindset. It starts at a young age for a kid to learn that mindset of, ‘OK, I really need to be open to this and be positive with that stuff.’”
Being a great teammate means listening to coaches and pushing teammates to be their best. But it isn’t easy being a great teammate because it takes time and effort.
“You obviously have to get to know your teammates and be open to what they’re saying,” Jablonic said. “You’re not going to agree with everything that they’re saying, so it’s important to show that respect.”
As coaches, setting up team bonding activities can help create more cohesion and build friendships within the group. Allowing players to get to know one another off the ice can pay huge dividends on the ice.
“Sometimes we might look at somebody and assume, they’re this type of player. Behind that hockey player is a person that might be excelling in school or they might be a musician — whatever it may be, they’re more than just a hockey player,” Jablonic said. “The more you can incorporate that balance, get to know the people, the overall respect factor comes up. Then when a teammate’s successful, you’re happy for them instead of being jealous. I think that’s another great quality of being a good teammate – having the ability to encourage and support your teammates because that’s going to be contagious and they’re going to start to support you. And then you realize the value of putting your teammates in a good situation.
“True teammates really are happy not just for your success, but your teammates success.”
Jablonic stressed that being a great teammate is also understanding that having fun is a key component.
“You want to make sure that your players are passionate about what they’re doing,” Jablonic said. “I think fun should transcend each age group, especially when you get a little bit older — work on your skills with your teammates, with your coaches and one day you’ll be able to execute those to win a battle and make a play. That’s fun in the eyes of being a great teammate and really understanding that.”
Being a great teammate can also be beneficial for a kid later in life. There are many correlations to success on the ice and being a good co-worker in an office setting.
“I think when you look at it, we’re all developing skills where you understand and we’re all going through adversity and you’re learning how to compete, you’re learning how to work with different skill sets,” Jablonic said. “In our day jobs, you work with people that bring different skills sets; you’ve got to learn how to work with everybody to get the best out of everybody. I think those skills are easily transferable into your adult life.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.