“If you couldn’t play at all, would you be a valuable teammate every day?”

–Brad Stevens

Be honest:

  • When you get injured;
  • When you foul out of the game;
  • When your coach pulls you out because of a mistake;
  • When your teammate beats you out for playing time;
  • When you think your coach should be playing you, instead of someone else;
  • When your friends and family think you should be playing more;
  • When you’re constantly reminded that people only care about the number of minutes you play, and the points you score; and
  • When you’ve shown up for 4 years, gave your best every day, and you still won’t play a “meaningful minute” all season long…

Throughout all this, will you still be a valuable teammate every day?

Will you be a valuable teammate:

  • In practice?
  • After practice?
  • In the weight-room?
  • On the bench during games?
  • During the warm-up before the game?
  • In the locker-room at halftime?
  • In the locker-room after the big win?
  • In the locker-room after the big loss?
  • In group chats and on social media?
  • In the hallway, when you pass by the teammate who’s playing instead of you?

Will you still be a valuable teammate:

  • When you don’t think it matters?
  • When life is unfair?
  • When coaches are stupid?

The bottom line is this: Will your body language, energy, words, and actions serve the team? Or will they serve you?


Why It Matters So Much

Why does this matter so much? Well, it matters because great teams aren’t just made up of stars, starters, and coaches. Great teams are made up of a collective group of people who enthusiastically accept the roles given to them. Great teams are made up of people who don’t care about who’s getting the credit, praise, or reward. Great teams may have a “star”, but it’s all the unseen members—and their unseen work that nobody talks about—who make the team great. And we all want to be a part of a great team right?!


However, it’s about more than becoming a great team. Being a valuable teammate really matters because there will be days when:

  • Your boss won’t treat you fairly;
  • Your coworkers will look out only for themselves;
  • Your children won’t think you’re cool anymore;
  • Your marriage will struggle, and you’ll feel like calling it quits;
  • Your best friend may be fighting a serious addiction;
  • Your spouse may be dying; and
  • Your world may seem full of people who are filled with anger and hate.


The question then will be: Will you still be a valuable teammate? Will you serve others in the world, regardless of your circumstances?


The value of a teammate—and the character of a person—is revealed when the chips are down, not up. When it’s hard, not easy. Do you have the courage and the strength to be a good teammate when being a good teammate matters the most?


So, I’ll ask you one more time: If you couldn’t play at all, would you still be a valuable teammate every day?


Call to Action


Let’s hear it, coaches and players! Don’t just think this over but answer these questions with some very concrete commitments to be a valuable teammate when the chips are down this season. Remember:


Commitment = Controllable + Observable Behavior


Here are three different ways to respond:


  1. Letter: Write a 1+ page letter to your team detailing your many commitments to be a valuable teammate in all circumstances.
  2. Presentation: Create a presentation or read your letter to your team. Let them know how you are committed to be a great teammate.
  3. Team Commitments: Split the team into small groups and brainstorm potential commitments to be a valuable teammate in the various scenarios presented. Come together and agree on the 5-10 best commitments and create a team contract that everyone can sign.

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