Phil Jackson makes an observation in the introduction to his book Sacred Hoops which, paraphrased, goes like this:

Creating a successful team requires the individuals involved to surrender their self-interest for the greater good so that the whole adds up to more than the sum of the parts.

This is so true. I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum with this sort of thing. One year, when I coached in NCAA Division I, certain players were more focused on their dislike of others and on trying to make them look bad than on the team effort or their own development. Not surprisingly, that was a horrible season.

On the flip side, the 2013-14 Exeter women’s team fully committed collectively to one objective – reaching Final 8s. Were there some personal frictions? Absolutely. You aren’t going to have 14 players who over the course of a 6-month season agree on everything and always get along perfectly.

I think as coaches we probably all know this on one level or another. We know that we have to try to foster the team orientation. One of our big challenges is trying to get our players to do that. Let me ask a question, though…

Are you sacrificing your own self-interests for the good of the team?

Ponder that and let me know what you think.

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John Forman
John Forman

John is currently the Talent Strategy Manager (oversees the national teams) and Indoor Performance Director for Volleyball England, as well as Global Director for Volleyball for Nation Academy. His volleyball coaching experience includes all three NCAA divisions, plus Junior College, in the US; university and club teams in the UK; professional coaching in Sweden; and both coaching and club management at the Juniors level. He's also been a visiting coach at national team, professional club, and juniors programs in several countries. Learn more on his bio page.

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