How to Teach Your Child to be a Team Player
By janis on Jul 8, 2013

Why did you sign up your child to play youth sports? There’s probably a lot of reasons: to exercise, make friends, and have fun.

But one very good reason for getting your child involved in playing sports is that they can learn how to be a team player. And being a team player comes in handy in all areas of life: home, job, college, marriage, and with friends.

I’ve seen this over and over as my kids have finished college and gone on to their careers. Being a team player in the working world is a must for success and satisfaction in your job. Being a team player in marriage is important for building a strong partnership.

Take advantage of the youth sports environment to help your child learn this very important lesson that he will carry with him the rest of his life. As he goes to practices and games, encourage him to remember that:

There is no “I” in TEAM. It’s tempting for kids to get caught up in how well I do. Stats can help your child know if he is improving, and they are necessary if he plans to play in college, but your young athlete should not be fixated on them.

My son played with a teammate who was obsessed with his basketball stats. After every game he would hover around the bookkeeper to find out how many points and rebounds he had and then boast about it. When your child focuses on his statistics, he loses sight of the TEAM and becomes focused on himself. That kind of attitude is toxic on a team, and has a tendency to infect the other players.

It takes an entire team to win a game. A basketball team has five players; football, 11; volleyball, 6; soccer,11; baseball and softball, 9. Even MVP winner LeBron James cannot play the game alone. Take four players off the basketball court and watch the star player get beat. Doesn’t matter how good he can dunk. And can a quarterback throw without a line to protect him or a receiver to catch?

No matter how much you or your child thinks that he carries the team or how important your child is to the team’s success, your child depends on his team mates; they depend on each other for success.

Seeking to understand team mates helps team chemistry. Hurt feelings and miscommunications happen on every team. The solution is that your child and every child on his team needs to learn the art of seeking to understand, rather than demanding he be understood.

What does that look like? It means your child listens to his teammates, tunes in to their frustrations, and tries to help them succeed. It means he looks for ways to help teammates get along.

Taking responsibility for mistakes is necessary. No one likes to take responsibility for his mistakes.

When our QB son threw an incomplete pass, he knew that sometimes the mistake was his and would admit it to his receiver.

When our daughter made a bad pass in volleyball, she learned to acknowledge her error instead of blaming her teammates.

When team members have this attitude, it changes from a group of individuals to a team.

Your child must accept what’s best for the team. And what’s best for the team may not be you or your child wants.

Do you or your child insist that he play a certain position? Do you or your child think you should start or get more playing time?

It’s tough to put the needs of the team above your own. But when you can do that, it benefits the team and you.

It just may be that what’s best for your team can turn out to be what’s best for you as well.

We all know that there are players and there are team players. Players participate to show off, and team players love the game and understand the concept of team. Are you encouraging your child to become a team player that sees the big picture of team?


Janis B. Meredith writes a sportsparenting blog, She’s been a sports mom for 20 years, and a coach’s wife for 28, and sees life from both sides of the bench. You can also follow her on facebook and twitter.

photo credit: chemisti via photopin cc