Good teammates touch the line.

Anyone who has ever participated in organized sports and had to run sprints understands the significance of “the line.”

A photo occasionally pops up on social media of a team running sprints during practice. In the photo, one of the players appears to have stopped several inches short of touching the line before heading back in the other direction.

An arrow pointing to the space between the runner’s foot and the line he was supposed to touch was added to the photo, along with the caption “The distance between winning and losing.”

Having experienced sprints as both a player and as a coach, I’ve thought a lot about the necessity of touching the line. I’ve wondered, does touching the line really make a difference?

Isn’t the point of running sprints to improve a player’s physical conditioning? Will running a few more inches get a player in better shape? No, not really.

If conditioning is the primary objective, then stopping a few inches short of the line should be inconsequential. But it isn’t.

Touching the line matters.

Is touching the line about conditioning? No. Is touching the line about discipline? Maybe. Is touching the line about respect? Absolutely.

Touching the line shows you care. It is a sign of respect for your coaches, your team, and yourself.

You can’t force someone to respect you. But you can choose who and what you choose to respect. That belief is fundamental to the good teammate mindset. Good teammates show respect, which is why good teammates touch the line.

The irony is that because good teammates consistently show respect, they often receive respect without deliberately seeking it.

Right now, someone is sitting in an office somewhere, reading this and chuckling. Because that person understands that athletes who stopped short of touching the line when they ran sprints grow up to become employees who submit incomplete reports, fail to return files to their proper place, leave the copy machine out of paper, and do about a million other things that cause their coworkers to be unnecessarily inconvenienced.

Paying attention to detail and being thorough are forms of respect. Those who fail to demonstrate respect in this manner don’t recognize how their stopping short inconveniences others.

Successful teams are built on respect. Touching the line may not explicitly make the difference between winning and losing, but it definitely makes the difference between success and failure.

Good teammates touch the line—every time.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is a leading authority on the good teammate mindset. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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