It’s not the best team that always wins. It’s the team that plays best together that is most often successful! A team of solid, but average players who work well together and play as a tight knit unit will consistently beat a team of above average players who are selfish and self-promoting. So what do you do if you find yourself surrounded by selfish, limelight seekers? WAKE UP THE COACH!
The coach is the architect and builder of a winning team. In my humble opinion, it’s the coach’s job to step in and re-educate the selfish players about what teamwork and winning is really all about. When a coach looks the other way in the face of selfish behavior and/or rewards these selfish players with preferential treatment and playing time, he/she will be mainly responsible for the team’s consistent underachievement.
Successful programs across every sport and at every level have been able to teach their players that winning can only be achieved when everyone plays their particular role as assigned by the coach for the good of the team. It’s a pretty basic concept that team success means that the individual must sacrifice his/her own needs and ego for the good of the group. A player may think that being a showboat or prima-donna might mean that he/she’s an exceptional talent and better than everyone else, but what it really means is that this player lacks a basic understanding of the game.
Good coaches always bench selfish players and start team-oriented players, regardless of their talent because they know that the team can’t be successful when these big egos are on the court or field. The coach who ignores this principal and gives the better, selfish athletes more playing time is making a deal with the devil. Why? Because a selfish, “better” player is not really better for the team! On the contrary! He/she is a serious liability!
A high school senior point guard recently related a story of how the sophomore, starting point guard pouted and fumed at the end of the bench when the coach took him out and replaced him with the senior. Instead of using this experience as a teaching opportunity to promote the value and importance of teamwork, the coach very quickly pulled the senior and put the pouting sophomore back into the game. GREAT MESSAGE FOR THE KID AND THE REST OF THE TEAM!!!!!!! BE SELF-CENTERED AND YOU’LL GET TO PLAY FOR ME!
Great teams can only become great when they play together, when everyone has a role and plays that role to the best of their ability for the good of the team. There is no room for big egos and selfish behavior on a championship team and it’s up to the coach to quickly set limits on this kind of team disrupting, immature behavior.