You either love sports clichés or you hate them. I happen to love them. I think sports clichés add to the aura of sports and amplify the excitement of games. I am especially fond of sports clichés that apply to being a good teammate.

Here are twenty classic sports clichés that offer insight into what it means to be a good teammate.

1. “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” Good teammates don’t have an individual ego, they have a team ego. They base their identity off what their team accomplishes, not in how they looked as an individual player.

2. “They’re all heart.” Strictly speaking, this isn’t entirely true. Good teammates have plenty of physical talent too. But the passion in their heart for their team is clear to anyone who watches them perform.

3. “They’re all on the same page.” Good teammates commit to the game plan and make a conscious effort to align their beliefs and actions with their team’s culture. They refrain from doing their own thing.

4. “Throw under the bus.” Self-preservation is never a consideration for a good teammate. They don’t save themselves by condemning others. However, don’t confuse this cliché with confronting a toxic teammate. If something is disrupting the team’s culture, good teammates don’t hesitate to condemn the toxic behavior.

5. “They’re the first one in the building and the last one out.” Good teammates are fully invested in their teams. They transform their personal time into “team” time by coming in early and leaving late.  That leaves a lot of time in between to make positive strides.

6. “They have unbelievable chemistry.” Good teammates sacrifice individual convenience for the betterment of their teams. Because of that, good teammates are able to contort themselves into fulfilling the roles their teams need. Their willingness to sacrifice creates synergy on their team.

7. “They brought their ‘A’ Game today.” Good teammates bring their ‘A’ Game every day. Good enough is never good enough for a good teammate. They’re perpetually focused and don’t accept anything less than their best. That means they don’t coast during drills, take plays off, or save it for the game.

8. “They do all the little things.” Good teammates are ego-less when it comes to their role. No role is beneath them. Additionally, good teammates pay attention to details. They understand the impact of mastering “the little things.”

9. “They do things that don’t show up in the stat column.” Similar to the previous cliché, good teammates engage in activities that aren’t normally measured. With the emergence of advanced metrics, it seems like almost everything is measured in sports today—keyword being almost. Experts still haven’t come up with a stat for giving high fives, pats on the back, and other general expressions of encouragement that impact team culture.

10. “Their blood, sweat, and tears.” This is exactly what good teammates sacrifice for their team. A commitment to serving the needs of their team pours through every pore on their body.

11. “They give 110 percent.” They go above and beyond what is expected. While others may be content to meet expectations, good teammates strive to exceed them.

12. “You win as a team, you lose as a team.” Good teammates give a consistent effort and maintain a consistent demeanor. They never take individual credit for a win, nor assign blame to someone else for a loss.

13. “They’ve got ice-water in their veins.” Good teammates can be emotional people. But they control their emotions, they don’t let their emotions control them. Controlling their emotions precludes them from being rattled during tense moments.

14. “They’re students of the game.” Good teammates value information. The more knowledgeable they are, the more they are able to contribute. This is why good teammates study the nuances of their craft. But they don’t study for themselves, they do it for their team.

15. “They’re gym rats.” Good teammates love the game. They want to spend every second of their free time working on their skills. They are most comfortable in the gym, in the pool, or on the field. There’s no place they would rather be.

16. “They know what it takes to win.” Good teammates understand the significance of their commitment to excellence, their ability to effectively execute, and their capacity to espouse enthusiasm—the “things” that lead to victories.

17. “They just want it more.” Nobody craves team success more than good teammates. Their desire for their teams to succeed makes them willing to go to lengths that others aren’t.

18. “Lions don’t roar when they make a kill.” A Dean Smith original! Good teammates aren’t compelled to boast about individual accomplishments. They handle achievement with humility and grace, as if it’s routine.

19. “They’re all in.” Leaders don’t have to worry about the commitment level of good teammates. Good teammates are completely emerged in everything related to their teams.

20. “It doesn’t get any better than this.” No, it doesn’t! Nothing is better than being a part of a team that is comprised entirely of caring, selfless individuals—good teammates.

For the record, I found it difficult to explain many of the above clichés without using clichés. I suppose that speaks volumes about their prominence in popular vernacular. At the end of the day, I guess it is what it is: Good teammates really are the heart and soul of their teams.

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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