As coaches, we all want our players to be great teammates. We talk to them about it. We evaluate them based on how they work with and treat their teammates. And most coaches probably assess the skills that make for a great teammate subconsciously.

In Mike Krzyzewski’s account of the 2008 USA Olympic Basketball team, The Gold Standard, Krzyzewski is unceasing in his praise for LeBron James as a teammate. If you have watched any of LeBron’s play in international competition (and more recently playing for the Heat), you realize that he is a teammate-first player. He is willing to guard anyone on the opposing team and has even been criticized for being too unselfish. If I were coaching him, I would take two Olympic Gold Medals, two NBA Championships, and an unselfish superstar any day of the week.


In basketball terms (most of these are transferable to other sports), here are a “baker’s dozen” characteristics that make a great teammate:
1. Is a servant leader. – If his teammates need something, he is there to provide support.
2. Works on his game and his body. – He focuses on skill development, weight training, and nutrition as ways to make himself and his team better.
3. Is an “energy giver.” – He provides a positive energy in the presence of his teammates on and off the court.
4. Mentally prepares off the floor. – He prepares by watching video of him individually, his team, and opponents, and thoroughly studies his scouting reports.
5. Accepts his role. – He knows that the coach is the one best served to divvy up roles for members of the team, and buys into that role.
6. Practices hard each day. – He sees the value of practice as being instrumental to the development of the team.
7. Is not afraid to say something for the good of the team. – Confrontations among teammates are good if executed properly.
8. Accepts a teammate’s criticism. – Criticism makes us better when delivered and accepted in the right way.
9. Is committed to play team defense. – It is easy to play individual defense but the best teams are connected and committed to each other on the defensive end.
10. Sets good screens. – He has a desire to get his teammate open.
11. Uses good screens. – He realizes that this two-man action is integral to his team’s offense.
12. Knows what a good shot is for him and each of his teammates. – And gets them the ball when they are open.
13. Makes the extra pass. – Even if he is open, he makes the extra pass to get his teammate a better shot.

Resources Mentioned in This Blog
Book: The Gold Standard

Question: What other qualities make for a great teammate?



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