I recently posted on the Coach’s role in creating a culture for his team, and the player’s buy in to that culture. Today, I am writing about defending the culture. Each season and at every level decisions are made as to who will be on the team. The most obvious consideration is talent measured by athletic ability and technical skill. The next layer typically leans toward hard work and/or some unique attribute that may be in short supply like shooting, size or ball handling. What may in fact be more determinative of the development and success of the team is the player’s capacity to work with others. Some players, regardless of talent and work ethic, are not suited to function in a team sport.
These players are miscast and destined to bring misery, frustration and disappointment to those they play with. I say miscast as they would likely do better in an individual sport like boxing, tennis or track and field where they would be rewarded for their singular efforts and determination.
Basketball and soccer, the games that are special to me, are team sports and require a mindset that enables the player to blend his talents with others for the greater good. The purpose being to find the fickle balance of assertiveness and deference that facilitates cohesive play. As a defender of team culture, you must be attuned to this distinction and select your team accordingly.