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  • Writer's pictureJason

Being the Best Teammate Possible

Updated: Jan 14

I remember years ago showing my team a clip while we were going over some film.  Our DS had chased a ball into the stands and while she wasn't able to get the ball up she had given max effort which is always the goal.  The point of the clip was to show what the rest of the team was doing; I paused the clip while the DS was still pulling herself out of the bleachers.  Her 5 teammates were all standing in the middle of the court in a circle waiting for her to come into the middle, like they all new they were supposed to do after each play.  To this I said it was great that we are circling up in the middle after each play like we are supposed to, but next time something like this happens I'd like to see 1 of 2 things; 1) a couple of you need to run over there and help her up and bring her to the middle or 2) move the entire huddle over to where she is to make sure we are encouraging and helping each other as much as we can.

Your "On-Court" personality is something that can easily draw dozens of coaches to your court or turn the away with about 15 seconds of watching you play.  Bad body-language and negative non-verbal communication are some of the easiest ways to get "un-recruited".  It's something that hasn't changed much over the years of recruiting countless days in the convention center, to my role now helping athletes on the HS and club side find the right school; I see teams and athletes carry themselves in a way that makes them almost impossible to watch.  Sometimes it can be rather in your face or obvious and other times it can be subtle.  It's one of the reasons that coaches want to see a full match, because they want to see how the athlete interacts after each play.  Below are some examples of things I notice and other college coaches notice.  These are fixable and trainable things!  Coaches and athletes can both play a role in improving these behaviors.

Check out this article that come out 8 years ago during the NBA Finals between the Cavs and Mavericks to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

The 0 Contact Huddle

Unity in a team sport is very important.  Being on the same page is very important.  I think a really easy way to promote this in your team is to get them in the habit of making contact with each other while in the huddle.  It's a really simple thing that can carry over into the rest of your team dynamic easily.  Watch teams during a timeout or between sets; which team looks more like a team?  Which team looks like they are engaged with their coach or with each other?  If the team is standing around, hands on hips, spaced out in different directions, not engaging - what are the chances they are winning the next point?

After Each Play

I learned this really early on in my coaching career; our head coach would take away a point if they didn't come together after each play.  It's a habit just like everything else that can really positively affect your team.  Some teams do this really well and others do it better when they score the point, but struggle when they don't score the point.  There is a difference between teams that celebrate the point and teams that celebrate the player.  That distinction is really subtle but it can make a HUGE difference with a team.  The team that celebrates the player - shows unity and unselfishness.  The team that celebrates the point - things can go bad in a hurry if they don't score points.


Everything we do is a learned behavior.  So if a team or athlete is struggling with non-verbal communication, change some of the things you do in practice.  Force yourself to high-five that teammate,  or create an atmosphere that encourages your athletes (coach) to engage in high-fives and fist-bumps with your players.  It will spill over onto the team and you'll see different dynamic in matches as well.  Athletes play exactly how they practice; so if they are giving up on each other during a match, they are most likely doing it during a match.

I see it fairly often; a player shanks a pass in serve-receive and every single player on the team just stay right where they are.  No huddle, no encouraging words to the player that just got aced.  What do you think will happen on the next play?  If you're an athlete that is getting recruited or wants to get recruited at the next level, then be the teammate that goes over to the DS that just shanked the ball, when everyone else stands still, give them a high-five, a pat on the back or head and say "you got this".  Every athlete is looking for ways to standout in the recruiting process, this could easily be the way that you do it and increase your stock with college coaches. 

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