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5 Qualities of Top Teammates

By Steve Mann, Special to Minnesota Hockey, 01/03/22, 4:00PM CST


In this day and age of youth player rankings, social media channels devoted to Peewee highlights and college programs offering scholarships to tweens, it’s become more important than ever for youth hockey coaches and parents to emphasize effort over performance and teamwork over individual accomplishments.

Why? Experts agree, the long-term benefits of being part of a team are numerous and learning the values of what makes a good teammate are best established when they’re reinforced at a young age. As the ultimate team sport, hockey provides the perfect setting to drive home this message of teamwork and develop attitudes and behaviors that can last a lifetime.

“I think it is so important because a lot of the qualities and habits extend outside the hockey rink,” said Garrett Raboin, University of Minnesota men’s hockey assistant coach. “Great teammates are simply just good people. They work hard to do their best and care for those around them. Many of the things that make players successful in a team setting go on to help them be successful in life after sports.”

Raboin, a native of Detroit Lakes, has been a part of successful teams both as a player and a coach, in the U.S. and overseas. He was a three-year captain at St. Cloud State before playing professionally in Europe and eventually starting his coaching career.

According to Raboin, great teammates are:

Selfless - Great teammates put the team before themselves and are willing to sacrifice in order for the team and their teammates to achieve success.

Positive - Players who are seen as good teammates exude a positive energy. Other players want to be around them, and they’re uplifting to those around them. They’re encouraging to teammates and practice positive talk about the team and others away from the rink. A good team player will never cast a negative light on their team, regardless of the setting.

Dependable - Good teammates are players that put forth a consistent effort and you know what you’re going to get out of them every day. Whether it’s being on time or following through with something you say you’re going to do, knowing that you can count on a person goes a long way in a team setting.

Accountable - Good teammates are able to own their actions and don't ask of others anything that they are not willing to do themselves. They strive to be the example not only on the ice, but outside of the rink as well.

Available - A good teammate is someone who is available to all teammates. They are people who engage and communicate with teammates outside of their friends’ circle and make the effort to involve anyone. It is important to understand that each individual on the team is important to achieving team success, and you should go out of your way to make sure everyone feels valued.

“By simply respecting your fellow teammates and keeping a positive attitude, players will be on their way to becoming great teammates and leaders,” Raboin added. “All teams are made up of different personalities and abilities, and it is important for players to understand that. A player who respects their teammates will make every attempt to not let them down, as well as give their absolute best whether it’s at practice, in games or in the classroom.”

On most teams, there is at least one player or a group of players that rise to the top in terms of leadership. For a select few, those qualities may come naturally.

But can a player be taught to be a leader and a better teammate? Raboin believes the answer is yes and suggests that coaches and parents can make the biggest impression away from the rink.

“I think the best thing they can do is model the behavior themselves and help guide conversations at home,” he said. “It's important for parents to talk to their young players about how they can be better teammates and leaders. The car ride home from practice and games is a great opportunity to not just talk about their individual play, but check-in and see how they were as a teammate. Being a good teammate is just natural for some players, it's just who they are. For others, it might not be so natural, but over time they may come to realize the connection between team and individual success, and how one feeds the other.”

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