• Liz Lucas

3 laws of being a good teammate

Recently I started a new job, instructing ADHD students, taking them into the woods for two weeks at a time supporting/facilitating their academic, personal and social growth. This is a unique and beautiful endeavor. Together with my co-instructor we are tasked with supporting six students as we navigate these adventures together. No matter when I was an active athlete, coach, or in a professional setting the skillset is still the same. Being a teammate is one of the golden ticket skills when it comes to working and interacting with others in a productive way. This requires a high level of teamwork on all levels.

Team work truths

1. Teamwork is good COMMUNICATION

2. Teamwork takes WORK

3. Teamwork is maintaining both my needs and my team’s needs

1. Teamwork is good communication

Guess what?! You cannot read my mind and I cannot read your time. Together we must accomplish a task and to do that we need to communicate. This is a simple concept yet many of us struggle to communicate. We forget that other people see the world differently from ourselves. What is logical to me may not be logical to another. Therefore, we must communicate clearly and efficiently. This all sounds fine and dandy. How the heck can we do this effectively?

First of all, building a connection with the person you are teammates with is a great start. Getting to know your teammate and how he/she/they tick is a golden ticket into better communication. As you do this it is easier to know how to communicate effectively with them. Without this communication may be a bit harder.

Strategy: Commit to getting to know your teammates, what do they like and dislike, how they spend free time or work life. What do they care about deeply, who are the other characters in their lives that are important, ask about them once in a while?

A side story: I have always been a “Git-R-Done” and believed that connection got in the way of getting things accomplished. On the softball field I was all business. There to play as hard as I could and not focus too much on building connections outside of the pitcher. This impacted my ability to be the best captain and teammate I could be.

2. Teamwork takes work

There is a reason why work is in the word. Teamwork is something teams often really focus on in the beginning and then forget about later on down the line. However, it is the continuous work that keeps the team alive and functioning. Just because you did all the work to plant a flower doesn’t mean it will survive, you still need to tend to it, water it, and remove the weeds otherwise it will die. Just like a team might fall apart when not attended to.

Strategy: Working on it can be as simple as voicing to that person what you appreciate about them. Asking them about something they said the last time you chatted. Asking them to help you complete a task. Proposing to do something together that is “out of the ordinary”. All of these things take work and pay off in the long run.

3. Teamwork is maintaining both my needs and my team’s needs

It is easy to get caught in the trap of focusing on everyone else while forgetting completely about yourself. However, how can I be the best teammate when I am not well myself? Understanding that I can hold both myself and my team in balance is the key.

Strategy: Choose to check in with teammates. Before interacting with your team prepare yourself with what happened last time and prepare to check in with certain people. Do a self check in when you have a few minutes and create a plan as to how to meet your needs and how you will communicate that.

Example: Staying later after practice is a great time to catch up and make plans to hand with teammates. Asking a coach to stay after practice to work on a specific skill with you. Team up with someone on the team that you don’t normally partner with.

At the end of the day teamwork is an amazing worthwhile experience and allows one to really get a reality check. It is hard work and with communication and intention it can grow into a profound learning experience.

So, the next time you are in a situation CHOOSE to be a good teammate.

To build your mental toughness check out the toughness academy at

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