What Do You Want From Your Teammates?
Do you want to be a great basketball teammate? What should youth basketball players want from their teammates? It sounds like a strange question, but it is one that needs to be answered.
Why is it important you understand what you want from your teammates? Well, it took me a long time as a player to figure out what I wanted from my teammates. This affected how I treated them, how I approached the game, and even how I selected teammates in pickup basketball. I want you to bypass some of the issues I had in this area. I want you to be a great teammate and view your teammates in the right way. Pay attention to these four things to look for in your current and future teammates.
You want teammates who can play basketball
For a long time, I wanted to play with guys who would give me the ball. I didn’t care how good they were; I just cared if they were going to pass to me when I wanted it. So I “encouraged” my teammates to give me the ball whenever possible. If you’re a pretty good offensive player, you may have this train of thought as well. And this is wrong thinking. I eventually realized that I wanted teammates who could play basketball whether I was on their team or not. Do you know why? It’s because when you really start to understand cutting, setting and using screens and the two-man game, the game is so much easier. You never want to play on a team where the defense only has to key in on one person trying to do it all himself, whether that person is you or somebody else on your team. It makes any scorer, shooter or playmaker’s job much harder. And it makes the game less fun overall. Once this clicked for me, I began encouraging teammates to play their games. And I began helping them to do just that. I began setting on-ball screens for driving teammates, getting in position to receive passes from playmaking teammates and looking to find shooting teammates for open 3 point shots. The game became easier for me as a playmaker and as a scorer. It also became more enjoyable for my teammates because I was encouraging them to use all of their skills to help our team win.
You want teammates who play hard
This is another thing I learned over time. You don’t necessarily want the tallest guys on your team. Or the most athletic guys. Or the most skilled guys. Or the most confident guys. You want players on your team who are going to play hard. As a youth basketball player, you’ve probably already experienced that it takes more than just skills to pay the bills. You need players who play hard to score in those underutilized ways, to play effective team defense and to win those 50/50 balls that often make the difference in close games. My college coach would say “playing hard is a skill”, and he was right about that. All players don’t exhibit that skill, but you want to be around the ones that do. You can make an effort to encourage teammates to play hard by being a player who plays hard himself.
You want teammates that are committed to process
You might have heard your coach or trainer talk about the difference between “process” and “results” based training. Being committed to process means that you are committed to the correct things even if they don’t always produce the correct results. This is because over time, correct processes yield the correct results more and more. For example, let’s say you have a teammate who is a good shooter. Your point guard drives in and passes it out to him for a wide open shot and he misses. The next time down the court, the point guard makes the same drive but doesn’t make the pass to the open teammate. Instead, the point guard tries to take a contested layup over two defenders at the rim. During the next timeout, you ask your point guard why he didn’t pass to your wide open shooter teammate, and he says “’Cause he missed the play before. I’m not gonna pass it to him if he’s gonna miss.” This point guard is showing a commitment to immediate results instead of the process of getting a good shooter open shots. Do you know what you should do in that situation? You should tell your point guard that hey, this guy’s a shooter so pass him the ball. He’s gonna make that shot. You want teammates who are going to keep doing the right things and not abandon ship the first time something doesn’t go right. That goes for team defense, shooting, playmaking, etc. Teammates who are committed to process are going to encourage you when you miss a couple of shots that you usually make. This creates a healthy, positive team environment. You can get the ball rolling by encouraging your teammates to do what they do best, especially after they make a mistake or miss a couple of good shot attempts. Be the same type of encouraging teammate you’d like your teammates to be when the shoe is on the other foot.
You want teammates who stay encouraged!
It is easy to get discouraged when things aren’t going right. That’s human nature. But you need teammates to stay encouraged to keep up the fight until the end. Let me repeat that: you need teammates to stay IN-COURAGE. That means keeping an aggressive, hopeful, competitive attitude throughout the game. Every time one of your teammate makes a mistake, this is an opportunity to encourage them. Even though you may have a much stronger urge to do something else. When you see a mistake weighing heavily on one of your teammates, take the onus to tell them “it’s alright”, “don’t even worry about it”, or “shoot it again next time”. These words can do wonders, and can make sure your entire team stays in-courage and ready to keep fighting. Whatever happens, be the encourager for your teammates because an encouraged teammate is exactly type of teammate you really want!