My entire family (my mom being the only exception) grew up playing basketball. Everyone except me played in college. Team sports provide an excellent outlet for young individuals to learn many lessons that will prove useful later in life. If they are fortunate enough, they learn that it takes many individuals working together as one undivided unit to win championships.
Every team is diverse. They have different strategies, different strengths, and various weaknesses. Often, the components necessary to become a championship team will differ. But there are Four Key Components of a Championship Team that are always the same:
- They play to win
- They stick to their strengths
- They assist others
- They score when it counts
PLAYING TO WIN
Whether on or off the court, the purpose of a team is to play to win. If we have players that show up day in and day out putting in only the minimal amount of effort, they clearly don’t care about the team’s core purpose. This causes the team to suffer.
Championship teams consist of individuals who give 100% during the game. When faced with struggles, roadblocks, unforeseen changes, or a stronger competitor, they don’t quit until the game is over.
That doesn’t mean every minute of every day is game time. NBA games last a total of 48 minutes, divided into four quarters, 12 minutes each. Even at the highest level, individuals cannot maintain 100% for an extended period. They need breaks, and they need rest even during the game!
Knowing when to give it your all and when to rest is critical to winning championships. That means sometimes we have to put in extra hours at work. And other times, we get to go home early. Sometimes we have to work on the weekend, and sometimes we get to take extra days off.
STICKING TO STRENGTHS
Shaquille O’Neal was an incredible player. But everyone, including him, knew he couldn’t shoot free throws very well. Teams who want to win championships must consist of individuals who understand their unique strengths and utilize them to achieve the team’s purpose.
If everyone on the team only wants to shoot three-pointers, the chance of achieving victory is going to be slim. Sometimes, the same routine can be tedious. As individuals, we want to grow and develop. It’s okay to practice outside of your expertise. However, if you are a Center on the court who wants to shoot three-pointers, you have to develop your skills enough until the rest of the team trusts you to do so during a game.
That means we operate in our current role while learning to develop in other areas that interest us without stepping on others’ toes or trying to perform in ways we aren’t yet able to.
Sticking to our strengths requires us to understand and accept our weaknesses. Once we do, we can learn to develop our weak areas as well. When we have developed our weaknesses enough, we are primed and ready to win championships.
We all desire to achieve as individuals. Sometimes, we can get carried away in this. Championship teams consist of individuals who put the team first. If each team member tries to be the sole leader in scoring, the result will be conflict and loss.
It’s okay to have a superstar on your team. But, when a superstar refuses to assist other team members when they are in a better position to score, resentment and mistrust will grow. Eventually, the team will leave the superstar to fend against the competition on his or her own.
Each individual must learn when to score and when to assist, even the star players. That means we focus on team victories and not individual ones. We put the team first and know that our team helps us perform better. Only with this serving attitude can a team win championships.
SCORING WHEN IT COUNTS
In high school, after a loss, our coach would tally up the number of free throws we missed. Usually, if we made just 50% more of our free throws, we would have won the game. Sometimes, what seems to be the most insignificant factor, can be the difference between winning or losing a championship.
Many times, we missed our free throws because we let the pressure get to us. It’s essential to learn how to perform under pressure. In practice, we drained them all day long. Just because we can perform well when the pressure is off doesn’t mean we can imitate that when the pressure is on.
Compare your work performance when you are at your best and things are going well, to your work performance when you are under all kinds of stress. How do you handle the pressure? Managing stress is an area where self-awareness and leadership development can help.
Learning to manage stress and stay effective while under pressure is crucial if individuals want to be on a championship team.