The Most Important Skill I Learned From Team Sports

Growing up, outside school I spent my time playing sports.

Unsurprisingly, as a Canadian, hockey was my main winter sport.

But I played everything I could—cross-country, volleyball, basketball, badminton, track & field.

My summers were full of sports too. 

I would spend half my summers doing sailing lessons, spending ~4-5 hours a day on the water. 

I’d spend the other half of my summer taking swimming and tennis lessons in the morning, and golfing with friends in the afternoon. I usually played soccer or sailed in the evening.

I loved every sport I played, perhaps with the exception of cross-country running.

I did love some sports more than others, but they each taught me something valuable.

In general, team sports were my favourites. 

Team sports require different skills than individual sports. 

Having to earn the respect of new teammates. The ability to motivate and encourage others. Keeping the group moving in the same direction. Building camaraderie, smoothing relationships, and learning to get the most out of each other. 

When you play with a team, you win and lose as a team. Wins are sweeter, and losses are shared. You push yourself not for its own sake, but so that you don’t let your teammates down.

And you spend so much time with those people that many become close friends. 

The skills required to be a good teammate transcend sports. 

They become invaluable anytime you need to work with other people, which is a core part of knowledge work and today’s economy. 

And the skills required to be a good teammate are the same skills required to be a good friend. 

Working hard for them. Doing your best to support them and be there for them. Helping them through hard times, and celebrating with them in good times.

Team sports gave me all kinds of things.

But the most important skill was how to be a great teammate.