Finding a Teammate

Did you see the American Magic video “Trust is Earned”?

It is an excellent 3 minutes of visual storytelling. It got me thinking about teamwork. Teamwork is a great life skill that sailors can develop through double handed sailing. If you’ve grown up in a one person boat the pivot to double handed sailing may strike you as daunting. Here are our tips for pairing up and finding the “right” partner. 

Finding a good teammate is not what you think it is. You aren’t searching for your clone. No one is like you, and that’s a good thing. Stop looking for someone with your same experience level, skill level, or results history. Image result for athlete development model

The truth is that sailors (and people) develop at different stages, on separate timelines. Age, maturity, physical, emotional, and mental development take their own time, which means everyone is in a different spot. 

If you believe talent is inherent and that athletes are either good or not, you believe some people have what it takes, and some don’t. There are winners and there are losers. This is the fixed mindset approach.Image result for fixed vs growth mindset

We believe in a growth mindset. We believe that skills can be developed, talent can be enriched, and every challenge can be overcome. We believe hard work and dedication pay off, and the next step is the most important one. This is true for everyone. With a growth mindset, let’s look at the pool of potential teammate candidates. 

1. Nothing Set in Stone

Realize that at different stages in your sailing, commitment levels change. Who you sail with tomorrow, or this summer, isn’t your teammate for life. We need to accept the things we cannot change. We can only control ourselves and our response. Especially if you are at the beginning of a new stage, campaign, or quad it’s likely that who you start sailing with is not the person you’ll finish with. 

Get started! Begin to work on yourself and your skills, regardless of who you’re with.  It is more productive to be in the game, rather than the bench waiting for “the right person” to walk in the door. Start working toward your long term goals. 

2. Match Commitment Levels

On the other hand, don’t be shortsighted when picking a teammate. You want to win the war, not the battle. Find someone who is going to work with you to improve tomorrow, or in 3 months, 9 months, 2 years. 

Being on the same page with regards to commitment and intention, is more important than past results. Find someone that matches your commitment level. Team up with a mate that is in it for the long haul and interested in working day in and day out who you can grow with. 

3. Find Balance of Skills

Strong teammates fill in the each other’s gaps and weaknesses, like puzzle pieces, so from a skills perspective you cover more ground. Our sport is so complicated, the strongest teams share the load of skills to excellence at, so each member fulfills their job in each area.

Example A: Let’s say the skipper excels at driving the boat well, keeping calm and focused, and always prepares team lunch. And the crew loves to tinker with the boat, keep track of spares, and studies weather charts and forecasts. When each member does their job and focuses on their area, a lot is accomplished. 

Example B: That team naturally has a lot of bases covered compared to a team with two tightly wound, type As who love boat to boat tactics. Teammates who are too similar end up positioning against each other playing king of the mountain, rather than competing against the boats around them. 

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Once you’re locked in with a teammate focus on developing the relationship. At the top of the sport everyone has great boat handling, tunes the boat properly, and can execute the tactical plays. What distinguishes the top teams from the rest is the strength of their bond to each other. 

1. Trust: The foundation of every relationship. Trust is not forecasting someone’s actions. Trust is being prepared to make yourself vulnerable and believing its going to work out. Trust is developed over time, in small moments. In skiff sailing, trust is knowing the crew can hit the wire 100% and the skipper will trim the main to catch their fall.

2. Conflict resolution: Learn to argue well. Learn to stick up for yourself and to hear your teammate out. Learn to put yourself in there shoes, and learn to compromise. The stronger the relationship that more you can push against each other and find resolution. Bonds that stick are forged with fire.

3. Commitment: Dedicate yourself on and off the water to the team. Little things like cleaning and rinsing the gear. Using each moment on the water to learn something new. Or, watching video in the car.

4. Accountability: Fulfill your end of the bargain. “Do you job,” as they say. Once you commit, fulfill it.

5. Goal Orientation: Let every arrow you shoot aim for the same target. Teams that share a vision, and mission, work together.



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