Friday, June 26, 2015

Hard Work Beats Talent, When Talent Doesn't Work Hard

url2.jpgDean Smith, former North Carolina Tar Heel Coach, said it best when he uttered the words play hard, play smart, and play together.  Those three ideas play hand in hand when competing at any level of basketball.  The idea that takes a team above and beyond on the basketball court is playing together.

“The broad sense of teamwork is the contractual moral imperatives of respect and fairness, which in return, constrains the coalescence of individual energies in the pursuit of competitive success.”1 This means that teamwork is essentially the agreement to play as one to eventually achieve a common goal or purpose.  Gaffney broke teamwork down into 4 classifications:

  • Arithmetic:  there is no tangible interaction among teammates.  Sports like tennis and swimming fall under this classification.1
  • Interchangeable:  playing roles are in flux during games and athletes adapt accordingly.  Sports like basketball and soccer fall under this classification.1
  • Coordination and Corporation:  these two fall between the above classifications.  In the first players operate independently but have critical exchanges while in the second players occupy specific roles within a well-defined structure.  Sports like track and field relays and baseball fall under both classification.1

teamwork-300x200.jpgTeamwork is the key to winning.  One thing that set Carolina teams apart during the Coach Smith era was the unselfishness of their play.2  You get the best results of teamwork when your team forms a brotherly or sisterly bond with each other.  When one makes a mistake encourage him/her to do better.  Praise your teammates’ success when they achieve a goal.2  Be a helper, be a cheerleader, be a friend for your teammates.2  Be there when they fall down and encourage them to get back up.  During competition make the extra pass, set a good screen, or go the extra mile by diving out of bound for the loose ball.  Whatever you do make sure it’s for the team.  In other words, team chemistry is a key piece to successfully working as a team.  Finally, play for the name of the front of the jersey and not the one on the back.

1 Torres, C. R. (2015). “The Role of Teamwork in Organized Youth Sport.”  Journal Of The Philosophy Of Sport, 42(1), 63-69.  doi:10.1080/00948705.2014.961160

2 VerSteeg, R.  (2006). Play Hard!  Play Smart!  Play Together!.  Coach & Athletic Director, 75(8), 16-18.


  1. Love this blog and never were truer words spoken (or written!). There are many, many coaches and athletes who could stand to be reminded of this. How many times have we all watched a team fail or succeed because of teamwork? Long live the Bad News Bears!

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  3. Coach Dean Smith and his UNC teams were the perfect example to use in this situation. His teams seldom had players average over 20 points per game (even the great Michael Jordan), but always played deep into the season because of teamwork. Teamwork makes sports teams better, but can also branch out into different industries and improve organizations. When I was a middle school teacher, we would have “teams” or core subject teachers that met and discussed daily. Those meetings allowed collaboration on classroom management, instruction, and other activities. Imagine how much better off the world would be if characteristics of teamwork were displayed on a daily basis in ALL areas.