Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why There Is No 'I' In Team

In my opinion, although a being catchy phrase, "Why there is no I in team" is one of the most overused and possibly most misunderstood phrase of today's culture, especially in the world of sports.

We see it everywhere, posted at the work place, plastered on signs hung from overhead steel girders inside the conglomerate stores, sports facilities and etc; apparently anywhere someone or some organization deems a "Team" atmosphere will be valuable.

In order to develop a "Team" atmosphere, we must first decide what we consider a "Team" to be, and although at first glance this may appear to be a moronic question, is it?

One such definition may be " a person belonging to a group or team, who performs whatever action, physical or mental, which enhances the chances of the team achieving its goal, regardless of the effects on the individual."

Possibly a perfect definition, as I'm sure everyone has heard an excited fan yell " Take one for the team," from the stands. Intentionally taking an 90 mph fastball in the ribs in order to reach base in a 0-0 late inning game, would be considered self sacrifice in the name of "Team."

However, depending on your point of argument, "communism" can also fit nicely into this definition. Every individual gives up all identity and personal goals, in order to benefit the group or team, and sacrifices to make the team successful regardless of personal consequences.

Suddenly we have a dilemma of explaining what actually constitutes a "Team" much alone explain why there is or isn't an I in it.

I don't mean to be argumentative or confrontational, blame it on my coaching style, but I always stressed to my players... Think. Know why you're doing something, like turning right instead of left on the line drive, or else you'll never master it, because you're really not sure what you're attempting to master.

I, for one, do not agree with the term "there is no I in team," but rather believe "there is an i in TEAM." The team is comprised of a number of little i's who come together to pool their resources, talents, characters, desires and focused energy to achieve a common goal.

An individual pitcher, must train and practice for hours upon hours in order to achieve maximum control over his curveball. His effort may be enhanced by the coaching staff demonstrating and constantly tweaking his grip, arm motion or delivery and the bullpen catcher may spend hours catching pitching practice, in order the make the teammate a better pitcher, for the benefit of the team.

However, without the drive and persistence of the individual pitcher, the little i enduring hours of frustration, fatigue and soreness, there would be no improvement in the pitching staff and ultimately the team.

Where the I has no place in team is after the pitcher has succeeded in obtaining maximum performance of the curveball, could care less about it contributing to the team.

One such example would be the pitcher throwing an excellent curveball, which the batter luckily makes contact with, hitting a weak squib ground ball to the second baseman, who instead of turning it into an easy out, let's the ball go through his legs. The pitcher becomes totally irate at the fielder for the error, making no attempt to mask his anger, and any subsequent hit or run after the error would be considered the second baseman's fault. That is an I and is totally unacceptable.

The little i takes a deep breath, tells his fielder to shake it off and focuses on getting the next batter out, thus "picking up his teammate."

You may not agree with my position and that is perfectly fine, in fact it's great. What I urge coaches to do is analyze everything you teach your players. Don't become one of the herd mentality and go along with the program because it's the current popular thing to do. Your players depend on you to lead them in the right direction. Good luck accomplishing that.
Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on baseball coaching baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:
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