With the wealth of local CrossFit-style competitions taking place every weekend all over the world, not to mention those elite teams competing at the Games this week and the occasional inclusion of a partner/team WOD at the box, a CrossFitter has an abundance of opportunities to be part of a team. And being part of a team in CrossFit is just like it would be for any other sport; the shared sense of camaraderie, the experience of growing and learning as a team, bonding through victory and defeat, and the sense that you are part of something bigger than yourself. Of course, this may all be for nothing if you’re on a team full of wankers. So when deciding to be part of a team, you always have to be wary of the people you’ll be competing with, which begs the question: What makes a good teammate?
1. Their level of competitiveness
One of the worst things about having a teammate who is nonchalant about winning or losing is that while you’re literally in the process of giving blood for the cause, they’re going through the motions as if it were open gym and they wanted to hop on the foam roller for 30 minutes. Obviously, that’s not going to mesh. It’s important to identify if the competitive desire of a potential team (as a whole) matches yours prior to signing up for a competition, otherwise there is going to be friction right from the beginning. People who want to compete to win are going to be frustrated by those who they deem aren’t putting in the necessary effort to achieve that goal. Conversely, people who want to compete for fun and enjoy themselves in a more relaxed atmosphere aren’t going to appreciate Danny Broflex all up in their grill screaming at them to pick it up. You have to make sure that all the team members are on the same wavelength when it comes to how serious you want to treat the competition.
2. Their level of fitness
While CrossFit is open to all, and a team can certainly have athletes at varying levels of fitness, I’m sure you would find it preferable to be competing alongside people who are at or near the same level as you. An athlete who may be newer to CrossFit (or less fit) may feel guilty or embarrassed if they are noticeably slower than their teammates, bringing the overall score down. And despite your noble intentions, if you’re a much stronger athlete on your team (strong in CrossFit in general) you will likely get frustrated that the rest of your team can’t keep up, leaving you to literally shoulder the load. It’s best to have a team that’s balanced across the board, in more ways than one…
3. Their strengths and weaknesses compliment those of the team
As the athletes of the NPGL (formerly NPFL) will demonstrate this fall, a good team (and teammate) will balance the strengths and weaknesses of their athletes so as each team member will compliment the other. For example, a team full of metcon monsters will likely struggle when it comes to really heavy lifting. Conversely, if all the members of your team can dominate the Olympic lifts but fall apart when it comes to running, rope climbs or gymnastic work, it would be a good idea to pick up some athletes who specialize in this area. Of course, a team that is strong in every exercise would be ideal, but the likelihood of this happening is slim. To create good balance on a team (thus creating the best chance of success), look to have athletes who have strengths in areas that others may lack, and vice versa.
4. A team-first attitude
Nobody likes being part of a team when there are people who are arrogant and selfish, regardless if it’s in a sporting context or a professional one. There are exceptions for the once in a lifetime talents, the Steve Jobs and Michael Jordan’s of the world, whose passion and tenacity for their fields intimidated those around them, but lifted their abilities as well. But for every MJ and Jobs, there are countless other great talents who simply made terrible teammates, and acted as if they were bigger than the team and the organization. The best clubs would trade or fire such a person—as no one athlete is bigger than the team (unless your name is Michael Jordan). You want to make sure that you’re competing with people who understand what it means to be part of a team, who are willing to sacrifice for the cause and can support and compete at a high level in equal measure. Just remember, the best athlete doesn’t make the best teammate, and usually that makes a world of difference…in the wrong way.
5. A similar training schedule
This may seem obvious but can be overlooked. Do you want to have a teammate whom you barely see outside of competition? Of course not. You’ll want to compete with someone that you can train with and formulate a game plan with—it all helps in creating team chemistry. But if they’re never around when the rest of your crew is, you’re going to have a hard time in trying to make that happen.
6. An effective communicator
An undervalued quality that is priceless is the ability to communicate well with other people. This doesn’t just mean that you can speak loudly or get your point across in an effective manner. A good communicator is one who understands the different personalities of their teammates and can work with each one effectively. They understand when to encourage and when to back off, when they should give advice and what words to use. They can console and give praise, they can instruct and receive criticism positively. If you have a bunch of teammates who are on the same page in this regard, then well done. You’ve hit the jackpot.