These days, team participation is so often necessary–in school, sports, at work, and even at certain internship interviews that test your teamwork skills–that you would think a teamwork manual would have been slipped to us in pre-school.

For most of us, that didn’t happen, so SMU Snapshots took to consolidating tips on how to work in a team. And who better to turn to for advice, than a leader who believes victory with a team is the sweetest? Hoe Zheng Huan, former captain and events director of SMU Floorball, lets us in on how to be a great team player.

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“Victory with a team is sweeter than victory alone, because you have to put in a lot of hard work, not just on your own, but with your team mates too.”

Having spent the past 12 years playing on floorball teams, Zheng Huan is familiar with the demands of being a team player. On the flip side, his leadership roles in SMU have also given him big-picture insight to appreciate the traits that make for an MVP aka most valuable player.

100% Commitment

It is a common assumption that MVPs are those with the most talent who can score the most goals. But the trait that all teams treasure the most, even above technical finesse, is commitment. A committed player is positive and puts in his best effort and energy in order to achieve the team’s goals.

“If you can show a certain level of commitment, you’re definitely an asset to the team.” Zheng Huan shares on the importance of being committed. “On the other hand, you could be a great floorball player, but if you don’t attend trainings, you are unlikely to be selected to compete alongside the team.”

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Have a great attitude

One could also be the best floorball player there is, but without humility, he is also unlikely to make it into the school team. Zheng Huan stresses that even if you have the best technique, you should not be a snob or showoff about it, because then, you are likely to stagnate and never improve.

“Truly great players have a great attitude to match. One of our youngest members is a very gifted player, but he never tries to show that he’s the best. On the contrary, he is early for every training, keeps teammates motivated, and is always eager to learn. That’s a great attitude to have.”

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Besides being humble and open to learning, one should also actively seek self-improvement. Zheng Huan feels that the best way to learn and improve is by venturing out of your comfort zone. In addition to playing for SMU, he challenges himself by joining teams outside of school to compete locally, and encourages his team to do the same.

Know your team

Being in a team, you get to meet all sorts of different characters. Besides the strong and weak players, there are also players who are open to criticism, and those who perform badly when criticised. To be a good team player, Zheng Huan stresses the importance of taking the time to get to know your team mates.

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“Before you get together to do something like play a sport, you have to know the team that you will be playing with. Only when you know each other well, will you be able to build on each other’s strengths and support each other’s weaknesses, to strengthen the team as a unit.”

Similarly, in life and at work, Zheng Huan believes that when we are aware of people’s quirks and preferences, we are able to use certain strengths to the benefit of the team, and support each other’s weaknesses so that the team can function better together.

Develop a winning mentality

To conclude, Zheng Huan shares a quote that inspires him, by Sepp Herberger, German football player and manager: “The ball is round. The game lasts ninety minutes. This much is fact. Everything else is theory.”

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Whether you are a playing for a team or for yourself, Zheng Huan emphasises that a winning mentality is important, even if you might be losing.

Herberger’s words of wisdom is a reminder that a ball can bounce in any direction; it has no bias toward either team, and presents the same “face” to every single player. Therefore, anything is possible during a match and no outcome can be fully predicted. In good times and especially during the bad, Zheng Huan believes that it is this positivity and winning mentality, that keeps teams united and motivated.