I just played in two women’s ice hockey tournaments in the last two weekends. We competed at a Women’s C level in the first tournament (MLK tournament in San Jose) and at a B level in the second tournament (in Las Vegas!). Perhaps you can guess the result- we won the first tournament and we lost the second tournament.
Needless to say, two back-to-back weekends of hockey tournaments creates lots of good teamwork blog material. I’ll just start with one for now: Teamwork is about recovering from mistakes.
Let’s face it- everybody makes mistakes. In every second of every shift of a hockey game, you can do something brilliant, do something catastrophic, or do something somewhere in between. You will make mistakes. In fact, if you don’t make mistakes then you may not be taking enough risks or working to the peak of your ability.
So, the question is what happens when you do make a mistake? Of course, you should get back into things and try to recover (it doesn’t help to get down on yourself in the moment!). In addition, this is where teamwork comes in. When you make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. Rather, it’s an opportunity for your teammates to shine! If your teammate makes a mistake, then you have an opportunity to shine!
Here’s an example: I was playing center. One of my defenders went into the offensive zone to make a play, so I covered back for her. Then there was a turnover. The other team got the puck and their forwards started skating towards our goal. Since I was covering for the defender, I started backing up to cover the play, while thinking hard about being in the right position to cover them. I was feeling pretty good and I was ready for the challenge of breaking up the play on this odd man rush. Then, out of the blue, my skate caught an edge and I fell backwards on the ice. My heart sunk. I thought “Oh $@#%%! They might score!”. I turned over and saw the other team skating hard towards the net. Then, all of sudden, I saw a streak of my teammate’s jersey. She was backchecking hard at full speed… she caught up to the player with the puck… took the puck away from her… and broke up the play! Yay- they didn’t score! Meanwhile I got up and jumped back into the play and the game continued on.
I was really proud of my teammate who totally rocked and saved the team from my mistake! Also, I think that even if my teammate didn’t break up the play, there was a really good chance that my goalie would have saved the day since she was also playing a great game! Of course, I’ll try to make fewer mistakes and stay on my skates next time , but it’s great to know that I can count on my teammates in times of trouble.
This is just one split-second example of a teammate covering for another teammate’s mistake. In a fast-paced sports game, mistakes and recoveries happen all the time- even every few seconds. Sometimes it’s blatant and sometimes it’s subtle. The main thing is that it’s all about teamwork- you work to the very best of your ability for your team, and if you or a teammate happen to make a mistake, you get out there to help recover from it and drive forward to create the next great play.
An added bonus is that by knowing that I have great teammates who can recover from mistakes, I know that I can take bigger chances on high-risk, high-reward plays. And, I hope my teammates know that they can do the same since I’ll be covering for them.
Another added bonus is that every time the team makes and recovers from a mistake, the team grows stronger! It makes teammates appreciative of each other, trust each other, rely on each other, and gain confidence that they can get through even tougher situations together.
The example that I gave was a very blatant and visible mistake and recovery that happened on the ice. Note that mistakes and recoveries happen off the ice as well- in between shifts, in between games, and in between tournaments. In addition, mistakes and recoveries happen in work and in life, and teamwork can help with the recovery. Do you have any great mistake and recovery stories in sports or at work or in life?
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