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by Ronald A. Rowe | October 13th, 2010 | Elementary

One of the hardest things to teach young people is teamwork. The strongest children – whether we’re talking about football skills, academic knowledge, memorizing Bible verses, or just about any other skill set – tend to want to do it all themselves. They know that they can do it better than the others and some competitive gene kicks in that drives them do take the shot themselves.

The relatively weaker children are just as unwilling to share. They don’t get as many opportunities as their more advanced peers, so they view every shot as their one big chance, which they are not going to give up to the team ball hog who always gets to take the shot (or answer the question or whatever the case may be).

As a coach, as a youth leader, as a teacher – I’ve found that teamwork is the lesson universally needed by students across all backgrounds and walks of life. Recognizing the need to teach them teamwork and actually making progress in that area at two entirely different things. I have had some success in recent years with a relatively simple approach.

For the superstar who doesn’t trust his less skilled teammate, I work on his sense of pride and leadership. The kid who is the best at football feels a burden to be a leader, but often doesn’t know how. You can steer a star athlete or scholar toward better teamwork by impressing on him the need to be a leader and then teaching him how to be a servant leader to his team.

For the child who isn’t as strong at their given field, the best approach that I’ve found is to impress on them, and the rest of the team, the vital role that they play in support. Using football as an example, the quarterback cannot complete a pass if the receiver can’t catch it. The receiver can’t get open unless his teammates run their routes properly. The whole play will never have a chance unless the center can snap the ball. Every player, not just the guys touching the ball, plays a vital role in the success of the team.

When the students understand that, the team is on the way toward learning teamwork and achieving greater success.

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