top of page

Coach's Corner

Team-First Attitude & Respect

by Scott Rosberg

Over the last couple of months, I told you that my boys' basketball team had come up with four Core Covenants that we decided we wanted to live by. In the last column, I told you about the first two—Discipline & Trust. Today we move to our final two covenants—Team-First Attitude & Respect.

As a reminder, what we call Core Covenants, others might call Guiding Principles, Team Standards, or Program Values. These are the standards/values that we want to live by and be known for. We like the term “Covenants” because a covenant is a binding agreement where action is visible. The biggest key to a covenant is the second part of the definition—you can see it in action. Covenants are only as strong as the actions associated with them.

Team-First Attitude

We told the boys that the experience of being on a great team is priceless. It is something that will influence who you are for the rest of your life. Few experiences can be as helpful in the growth of young people as being part of a selfless group working toward a common goal. It is our job to teach, promote, and build this attitude, and not leave it to chance. While the coach must work to develop a team-first attitude within the players on the team, it is up to the members of the team to also work within this spirit. As with most concepts, if those who are most affected by the idea don’t buy into the idea and then work to develop it, it will not be accomplished in the best way possible.

People must find opportunities to encourage their teammates and develop their unselfishness every day. While people involved in a team experience such as a sports team will develop many great personal friendships through the team experience, most of their favorite memories will be of teams—teams that learned the lessons they were trying to teach and accomplished the goals together that they could have never done by themselves.

Some keys to us developing as a team are as follows:

Selfishness is unacceptable. Eliminate any selfish attitude you have. The team comes

first in all decisions we make.

You must accept team standards and ethics.

Everyone has a role to fill on a team. Not everyone will be a scorer or a rebounder or a

passer or a screener or bench player, but different people must accept and

embrace these important roles.

Spotlight great performances of team standards by teammates. When you see a

teammate behaving with great discipline, developing the trust of teammates, displaying

a selfless, team-first attitude, or being respectful to the entire experience, PRAISE


Great teams are made up of people who have given up their quest for individual glory, who have willingly and wholeheartedly accepted the character traits of a team player and who have fully committed themselves to the group effort!

Following are a few of the great quotes about Team-First Attitude that we discussed:

“The power of ‘we’ is stronger than the power of ‘me’.” Unknown

“Commitment to team- there is no such thing as in-between. You are either in or out.”

Pat Riley

“The strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.” Rudyard Kipling

“The first thing any coaching staff must do is to weed out selfishness. No program can be successful with players who put themselves ahead of the team.” Johnny Majors

“Regardless of his personal accomplishments, the only true satisfaction a player receives is the satisfaction that comes from being part of a successful team… Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, and civilization work.” Vince Lombardi


We finished up with Respect as our final covenant. We started with the definition of Respect in Webster's Dictionary. The one we focused on most was "high or special regard: ESTEEM; the quality or state of being esteemed; expressions of high or special regard or deference."

We then talked about some ideas on respect from a paper entitled "The Psychology of Respect" on the website of the International Organization for Migration. They say:

"Respect is an important component of personal self-identity and interpersonal

relationships. It tends to be a self-reinforcing behavior. Treating someone with respect


Showing regard for their abilities and worth

Valuing their feelings and their views, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them

Accepting them on an equal basis and giving them the same consideration you

would expect for yourself." (IOM - UN MIgration)

You may have heard the statement, “Respect is (always) earned, never given.” What a crock! The problem with this statement is that it does not allow people to learn about others from a standpoint of respect first. It starts with the negative—"I don't think you're worthy of my respect until you show me that you have earned it."


In true cultures of respect, it is the other way around—"I will respect you until you show me that you don't deserve my respect." But even that has a negative vibe to it. We should focus on giving our respect to others... period. Only when someone has done something egregious enough that it warrants us to lose respect for them should we then not respect them.

Respect is a critical component of any team setting. With it, the sky is the limit for productivity; without it, the team concept falls apart, and we are left wandering in a desert of doubt, confusion, and discord.

We wrapped up our discussion on Respect with some quotes. A few of them follow:

"Knowledge will give you power, but character respect." Bruce Lee

"I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being." Jackie Robinson

"There is no respect for others without humility in one's self." Henri Frederic Amiel

"That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong."

William J.H. Boetcker

"We may not be able to stop evil in the world, but how we treat one another is entirely up to us." Barack Obama

"If we lose our love and self-respect and respect for each other, this is how we will finally die." Maya Angelou

Well, that wraps up our look at the Core Covenants that my boys' basketball team came up with for this season. By the time you read this, our season will be over, and we will be looking ahead to next year and starting our off-season skill work to become the best we are capable of becoming. But we will still use the Core Covenants of Discipline, Trust, Team-First Attitude, & Respect to guide us and help us on our road to the success we seek. I hope you have found these columns about our covenants helpful to you and that you can find some inspiration from them to help you to become your best, too.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page