Teamwork learned on the field leads to success in life

By Janis Meredith | Posted 1/18/2017

Teamwork is a must in youth sports. If your child is not learning teamwork while playing a sport, ask yourself why and do something to change it. The characteristic of teamwork will have a huge impact because it will affect how your child relates and works with others for the rest of their life.

A less sporty word for teamwork is cooperation. I use those words interchangeably throughout this post.

Cooperation is people working together to share the burden. When you cooperate, you join with others to do things that cannot be done alone. You are willing to follow rules because together, you can accomplish great things.

People who are cooperative can work well with others at home, at the office, and in the community. They make good decisions and choices, which leads to positive relationships with family, teachers, and friends.

Success in sports cannot happen without cooperation. Lance Armstrong competed in a sport that awards individual cyclists. Yet, he is quick to point out that his success was built on a cooperative mentality.

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?

Most children are not born cooperative, it’s something that must be taught. Youth sports is one of the places where cooperation can be learned in a fun atmosphere. Learning cooperation is a process, which usually doesn’t happen in one season. As your child experiences the benefits of cooperation through competition, it will reinforce and build a positive habit they can carry into the future.

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.

   Playing sports is more fun when I cooperate and get along with my teammates.

Team players are easy to spot – examples of a good cooperator.

   They listen to other people’s opinions and ideas, not belittling teammates when they offer suggestions during practice.

   They support other people’s ideas, even if they don’t agree. They follow the coach’s directions, even when they 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. They never complain about who they’re paired up with in practice during an individual drill.

   They stay out of cliques and make the new kid feel welcome or befriend the player with no friends.

   They are willing to change roles to suit the needs of the team and recognize the skills and strengths of their teammates.

   They take responsibility and do not blame others for mistakes during the game.

   They work toward the success of the team, rather than chasing their own individual success. They will do what helps the team win and not what looks good on the stat sheet.


Janis B. Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called Her new book 11 Habits for Happy and Positive Sports Parents is on Amazon.