In a time when self promotion and self celebration seem to be the focus of an entire generation, Lara Mossman explains why teamwork is still the most effective game plan of all.

Nick Levett, FA National Development Manager, says that first and foremost we should be building good character in young people. It is sound advice for players developing their dream style of play because character plays an important role in goal achievement.

German National Team Manager, Joachim Lo?w. Photo: KBE

German National Team Manager, Joachim Lo?w. Photo: KBE

The field of positive psychology has identified 24 character strengths that can enable us to reach our highest potential. One of these character strengths is teamwork. Teamwork can be overlooked in a highly competitive player development environment; not in a technical and strategic sense, but in terms of player mentality. The 2014 FIFA World Cup-winning German side understood this nuance. They are lauded by pundits the world over for shirking the individual superstar in favour of an unstoppable team machine.

So how is the character strength of teamwork defined? It involves cooperating, excelling as a member of a team, being loyal and dedicated. It means pulling our weight, doing our fair share and working hard for the success of the group. It means rejecting any sense of entitlement, importance or superiority. Importantly, when we are part of a team we are serving something bigger than ourselves, which gives us purpose and increases our chances of sticking at our goals through tough times.

So, if it is one aspect of building good character, how can we begin to measure teamwork in ourselves? Sean Douglas, the FFA’s Advanced Coaching Manager, talked about the importance of self-reflection in his inaugural PDP article. The following questions, based on the principles of appreciative inquiry, are questions we can ask ourselves as part of a self-reflection process on teamwork.

Without my teammates my game makes no sense. – Xavi Hernandez

01. How well do I know my teammates?

On the way to optimal performance teams go through development stages, much like players do. Part of the development process involves forging strong relationships. We can accelerate this process by truly getting to know each player on our team. What unique strengths and capabilities do they demonstrate? How can we play to those strengths to optimize our team’s performance?

02. Am I a good role model for my teammates?

Brazilian football legend Pelé says, ‘A team is not one player, not one star. What makes a team strong is a sense of family.’ Looking at the bigger picture we can ask ourselves how we want to represent that family?

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Lara Mossman
Lara Mossman
Lara Mossman is currently working towards her PhD in wellbeing and positive psychology in football at La Trobe University in Melbourne. As well as being a regular contributor to PDP, Lara teaches positive psychology at The University of Melbourne.
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