How to Be a Good Teammate

Written by VersusThu Aug 18 2022
How to Be a Good Teammate

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Albert Pujols explains how having a team focus promotes individual success.

What Does it Mean to Be a Good Teammate

Albert Pujols explains how having a team focus promotes individual success.

Today’s media can give a flawed understanding of the path to becoming an elite athlete.

Popular culture tends to celebrate the individual achievements of athletes—often overlooking just how much success is related to being a good teammate.

This doesn’t take anything away from the personal hard work, dedication, and sacrifice all athletes make to get to the top. 

But when you talk to these athletes. When you really get to know them. They all say the same thing:

Being a good teammate is essential to achieving individual success. 

One goal at Versus is to cover athletic development at a deeper level than any other source.

We do this by connecting directly with the top athletes in the world—asking them the right questions about skills, mindset, and performance.

We use the perspective of an early to mid-career athlete, looking to learn everything possible to take their game to the next level.

Our focus is on real-world facts and advice that will be useful to you—our valued audience.

With this in mind. We sat down with Albert “The Machine” Pujols, to ask him all about being a good teammate.

Careful Taking Advice From a Youngster

Pujols is a 22 year MLB veteran. He’s got two World Series titles, three National League MVP awards, six Silver Slugger awards, two Golden Gloves, and countless other accolades and achievements to his name.

As the oldest player in the MLB, Pujols brings a level of wisdom to the conversation that’s only possible through lived experience. The only other person who might come close is Adam Wainwright, who's also part of our starting lineup

By talking to someone with the depth of experience of Albert Pujols, we're making sure you get advice from someone who’s truly seen everything the game has to offer. 

It’s not that someone younger couldn’t offer advice on being a good teammate. But until a player has been through the highs, lows, and everything in between—for well over a decade. There are always going to be things they simply don’t know.

We’ve adapted this article from an exclusive video session with Pujols, which you can access with any of our subscription packages.

If you like what you read, make sure to head over to Versus to sign up.

You’ll get access to the full library of digital and interactive content from Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright, and tons of other elite athletes and world-class coaches.

Until then, let's dive into Albert Pujols’ top tips for being a good teammate.

Lead By Example

Being a good teammate and a good leader go hand-in-hand. 

Even if you don’t typically assume a leadership position, the time will come when you have to. 

Your ace pitcher and their backup are injured—your turn to step up. 

It’s the final innings, the game is tied, and you’re at bat—time to lead by example.

A player’s struggling with personal issues and needs support—it’s on you to show them how teammates help each other on and off the field.

For Pujols, leading by example goes way beyond just playing the game well. 

In his words:

“A good teammate is somebody that takes the time to care about others. It’s about being there for your teammate. Pick them up when they’re down. Yell at them when you need to. Fight with them when you need to. Cry with them when you need to. I’ve done all that.” 

Be An Encourager

For practical ways to be a good teammate, Albert suggests focusing on being an encourager.

Look for opportunities to support a teammate when they’re down, “Because that’s when they need you the most”, Pulos states.

We all know baseball is a game of failure. Every experienced player understands that mastering failure is crucial to ongoing success in the sport. But it’s easy to make the mistake of seeing failure as something only the individual athlete has to endure.

For Pujols, part of being a good teammate—is supporting your fellow players when they make an error.

He’s not trying to work through the challenge for them. But Albert understands a pat on the shoulder, along with some encouraging words, might be all a teammate needs to get their head back in the game.  

Set the Tone with Body Language

Adam Wainwright previously detailed how powerful body language is against opponents. 

In this video, Albert Pujols makes a similar point—but in reference to teammates.

“The most important thing is the attitude that you can give your team,” Pujols explains. 

“If you have bad body language and you’re not going about things the way you should—that’s going to reflect in the dugout.”

Look, we all make errors. Sometimes big, embarrassing, important errors in clutch situation.

And while it’s tempting to want to let your frustration out–throw equipment, yell at an umpire, or go after another player, all these things negatively impact your teammates. 

The fact is, the body language and mindset of one player in a team affects all the others: this is known as emotional contagion.

Handling your negative emotions so they don’t impact the team goes without saying. But to kick it up a notch—be like Pujols. 

Intentionally “show a positive attitude and body language to pick up the whole team”. No matter what you’ve got going on internally.

Questions Help Everyone Get Better

One of Albert’s top tips for athletes wanting to get better is to ask questions of your teammates.

Even after 22 years of professional baseball, Pujols comes to the stadium every day wanting to improve. And asking questions is a big part of how he does this.

Whether it’s asking how a particular play from last game could have been handled better. Looking for advice on a particular aspect of your game. Or querying what the strategy is for the coming season. Asking questions creates an environment that helps everyone get better. 

And you won’t just get advice from teammates to help improve your game. 

Making a habit of asking questions will encourage everyone to do the same—compounding the positive gains throughout the team.  

Teams and Individuals Succeed Together

Albert rounds out the video with a reminder of just how interlinked team and individual success are.

He tells the story of receiving a piece of advice from Jose Oquendo in 2004, right after moving from 3rd to 1st base. 

“For your infielders to win a Golden Glove—you have to be a Golden Glove 1st baseman,” Oquendo told him. 

This has stuck with Pujols ever since.

From that point on, Pujols knew that his and his teammates' success was directly linked. And he set out on a mission for them all to win a Golden Glove.

In the following years, Albert Pujols, Edgar Renteria, Fernando Vina, and Carl Rollins all received a Golden Glove award at least once.

Each athlete did their share of hard work. But they all understood their success said as much about the skill, heart, and tenacity of each individual—as it did about their ability to work as a team.

If you want to go deeper on hitting mechanics and what it takes to have a hitter’s mindset, head over to Versus and check out our Game Plans. Any of our packages will get you access to his lessons, plus tons of other training sessions, interactive content, and more.

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