Daily Archives: May 13, 2011

Superstars v team players

We’ve all been on (or coached) teams that have had one or two players who were just flat-out better than everyone else. They were more athletic, better-skilled, more driven, more whatever than everyone.

It would seem like those teams would have a natural advantage over those that don’t have any superstars or standouts. They should be the X Factor that drives the team to success. Yet more often than not those teams never quite seem to reach their potential and everyone is left scratching their heads wondering why. Except, of course, the dad or mom of the superstar(s) who just figure the problem is that everyone else isn’t good enough to play with their daughter. 

Yet to really understand what causes it, think about competitive rowers. Let’s say you have eight people rowing in the boat, and one of them is clearly better than all the others. If they all row in synch, that star rower will provide an advantage to the team.

But what if he isn’t rowing in synch with the others, because he’s capable of maintaining a faster pace than they can and he wants to row to the best of his own abilities, with no concern for everyone else? At that point the superstar is working against the efforts of everyone else, and the boat will actually go slower as a result.

Now imagine two superstars in that boat. They’re both rowing together with each other, but against everyone else. The boat goes slower still.

In order to maximize a team’s performance, everyone has to be working together for a common goal. It doesn’t matter if you/your daughter is a better player than the others. The minute she starts to think so, and sets herself apart from the team or works against the team’s efforts, the team will never perform up to its capabilities.

The truth is a true superstar makes everyone around her better. If she isn’t doing that she’s not a superstar, just a skilled player. And part of making everyone around her better is picking up others when they’re down, offering encouragement and standing up for their teammates if anyone gets on them. At that point, the sky’s the limit for the team.

Last thing to keep in mind is Michael Jordan was in the NBA for several years before he won his first title. He was a standout player for sure, and everyone marvelled at how great he was. He was a difference-maker on the court. But he didn’t become a champion until he became a true part of a team, willing to give up the big shot to someone else in order to move the team’s goals forward. Today, he has six rings to prove the wisdom of that concept.

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