Teamwork is a must in youth sports. And if your child is not learning it, then ask yourself why and do something to change that. Teamwork is huge because it’s one of those characteristics that will affect how your child relates to and works with others for the rest of his life.
A less sporty word for teamwork would be cooperation, and I will be using those words interchangeably in this post.
Cooperation means that people work together and share a load. When you cooperate, you join with others to do things that cannot be done alone. You are willing to follow rules which keep everyone safe and happy. Together with others, you can accomplish great things.
People who cooperate with others know how to work with people at home, work, and in the community. They make good decisions and choices, have positive relationship with family, teachers, and friends.
Success in sports cannot happen without cooperation. As Lance Armstrong says, “Anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals, without companions. The fact is, no one ascends alone.”
Is Cooperation Genetic?
Your child was not born cooperative. It’s something that you must teach him. Youth sports is one of the places where cooperation can be learned. Learning cooperation is a process; it won’t be learned in one season or even one year. As your child cooperates and sees the benefits of teamwork, she will build on that the next time she cooperates and sees the positive results.
The Truth About Teamwork
Athletes who cooperate in youth sports understand these truths:
- I can do more with my teammates than I can do alone.
- Every player on my team is making a unique contribution to the game.
- We will succeed when we work together.
- Sports is more fun when I cooperate with and get along my teammates.
Clues That Someone is a Good Cooperator
Teamplayers are easy to spot:
- They listen to other people’ opinions and ideas. Not belittling teammates when they offer suggestions in practice.
- They support other people’s ideas, even if they don’t agree. Doing things the coach’s way even when you don’t agree with the strategy.
- They work amiably with any partner they are assigned to, even if they don’t care for the person. Not complaining about who you’re paired up with in practice to perform a drill.
- They stay out of cliques. Making the new kid on the team feel welcome or befriending the player that no one likes.
- They are willing to change roles on the team and recognize the skills and strengths of teammates. Willing to play the position that the team needs.
- They take responsibility. Not blaming others for mistakes in the game.
- They are willing to work towards the success of the team rather than their own individual success. Doing what helps the team win, not what looks good in their stats.
Coaching Your Kids to Cooperate
Although it’s true that some kids are naturally more amiable and cooperative than others, every child needs to learn more about the fine art of cooperation. Here’s some ideas for helping them learn:
- Work on household chores at the same time, so that family members can work together to finish them. Better yet, work on one big project all together.
- Initiate a fun project that includes every family member, such as a garden, jigsaw puzzle, or dinner prepation.
- When your child does cooperate, thank them and encourage their effort.
- Talk about it at dinner. Ask a question like, when did someone’s cooperative attitude help you? or how does cooperation help our family run smoothly?
- Watch a favorite T.V. show or movie together and discuss whether the main character has a cooperative attitude. Would more cooperation change the outcome of the plot?
- Encourage your kids to listen to each other without interrupting.
“No Man is An Island”
That famous line was penned by the poet John Donne in 1624. The fact that we still quote it over 400 years later speaks to its simple but powerful truth. Neither your kids on their teams, nor you in your homes and jobs can succeed alone.
Teach your kids to be independent and strong, but don’t teach them to be islands. Help them understand the impact that cooperation will have as they play sports and in all other areas of life as they grow up–jobs, homes, communities.
“Life is not a game of Solitaire; people depend on one another. When one does well, others are lifted. When one stumbles, others also are impacted. There are no one-man teams—either by definition or natural law. Success is a cooperative effort; it’s dependent upon those who stand beside you.”
― Jon M. Huntsman Sr.,
Learn more about helping your child become a team player: