The Three Pillars of a Successful Teammate

Being part of a dragon boat team is so much more than simply showing up to practices and races, yet far too many paddlers don’t recognize the various facets involved in improving the team and being a good teammate. Chris Edwards, a Canadian National Team coach, gave a talk about the three pillars of a successful teammate which he credits to an NCAA hockey coach. Here are the three pillars that each teammate needs to exemplify:


Each member of the team must be willing to help build the team. Your club might be well-established, but if you do not work to make it better, it will quickly be surpassed by other teams who are focused on growth and improvement. So, what is your role in helping to build the team? Don’t be a passive member who simply shows up to practices. Make a full commitment to the team. Attend practices regularly. Train off the boat on an OC, in the gym or elsewhere to become physically and technically stronger. Encourage your teammates. Bring out the best in those around you. Volunteer to help with the administrative duties of your team in whatever area you are most comfortable (website development, newbie training, collecting waivers, etc.). If you aren’t sure what to do, ask the leadership of your team how you can help. A team isn’t a one-man show (or at least it shouldn’t be). It takes the work of many people to help run the club smoothly.

Paddlechica CCWC Adelaide Dragons Down Under 3

Club Crew World Championships 2016, Adelaide. Photo provided by Dragons Down Under


As a part of the team, we each have a responsibility to protect the history of the team. Whether your team is relatively new or has been around for years, your team’s name carries a reputation. Wear its jersey with pride and uphold the prestige of your club. Defend its name, honor its tradition, work to strengthen its reputation, keeping in mind that sportsmanship (or lack thereof) defines the character of the team.

Paddlechica Neckardrachen Holger Visser

Neckardrachen team in Germany. Photo: Holger Visser


If you have focused on the first two pillars, the third should be easy. Believe in your team. Trust that you have worked hard to build and protect the success of your club. But there is more to it. Have confidence in your teammates. You can’t expect to be sitting at the start line with doubts about the crew you are competing with. Know that you can count on the team and each of its members that you have spent countless hours training with. And above all else, trust your coach. Your coach’s job is to do what is best for the boat in preparation for the next race. Your job is to do what YOU need to do to prepare for the next race. You may not always agree with your coach’s decisions, but part of being a believer is having faith in the process.

Paddlechica Steersman Quebec Cup Ed Nguyen

Quebec Cup. Photo: Ed Nguyen

Build the team. Protect the team. Believe in the team. Tweet it!

So, as the on-water practice and racing season is just beginning for so many of us in the northern hemisphere, it is time to consider your role within the team. Being a teammate involves a much deeper level of commitment than what one would initially realize, but if you are truly passionate about dragon boating, you will agree that it is all worth it. Build the team. Protect the team. Believe in the team.

Paddlechica Chris Edwards Gaeton Gagnon

Coach Chris Edwards at Worlds in Welland, 2015. Photo provided by Gaéton Gagnon


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3 Discussion to this post

  1. Riko says:

    Thanks Kristen. I always love your articles. Do you have advice on how to deal with difficult people and those that think they are team players but aren’t?

    • Paddlechica says:

      Riko, thank you for reading my articles! I appreciate you taking the time to write. Regarding your question, that sounds like a good topic for a blog post! Thanks for the suggestion. I will work on that one…

  2. Kristen Tull says:

    I would love to read what you have to say on that as well!

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