The Law of the Playmaker

“A champion pays an extra price to be better than anyone else.” –Bear Bryant

Winning teams have players who make things happen. Plain and simple.

If a team isn’t intentionally fighting to move up, then it inevitably slides down. The competition doesn’t grant favors or ease up when teammates decide not to give 100 percent that day.

When the clock is running down and the game is on the line, there are only three kinds of people on a team:

People who don’t want the ball. These teammates don’t want the responsibility of carrying their team to victory.

People who want the ball, but shouldn’t have it. Oftentimes, these players have egos that far exceed their talent. They say they can carry the team to victory, but in reality, are not able to do so. Such people can be dangerous to a team.

People who want the ball and should get it. These athletes are able to push, pull, or carry the team to new levels when the competition intensifies. They let their actions and performance speak for their capabilities, not their own rhetoric.

The people who want the ball and should get it are playmakers. Playmakers, in short, are the “get-it-done-and-then-some” people.

The playmaker has fun stirring up the team, making things happen, and doing everything in his or her power to push the team to the next level. When a playmaker does this consistently, the team builds trust, becoming confident and unified. When playmakers lead by example, they bring an electric intensity to the team. This intensity energizes others, and ultimately, produces amazing results.

In the wise words of Bear Bryant, “A champion pays an extra price to be better than anyone else.” So, how do you find playmakers who will pay the extra price for your team?

Here are nine characteristics of a playmaker:

  1. Intuitive: Playmakers sense things that others do not sense. They may smell an opportunity that others do not, and then take an intuitive jump for the team that turns a disadvantage into an advantage.
  2. Communicative: They say things that other team members don’t say. Maybe they speak the hard truth, or maybe they offer insight to a struggling teammate. Playmakers usually know the difference between when a teammate needs a boost and when he needs a boot.
  3. Passionate: Playmakers foster intense passion for their team, work ethic, and overall victory. They can channel that passion into controlled fury in order to achieve the goal, and they can spread contagious enthusiasm throughout the locker room.
  4. Talented: They can’t take the team to the next level if they have not mastered the skills to succeed on a personal level.
  5. Creative: They are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve their team.
  6. Initiating: Playmakers are disciplined in their actions and find joy when improvements happen. Therefore, they initiate change.
  7. Responsible: Playmakers take responsibility for the team. They live in a mindset of “It it’s to be, it’s up to me.”
  8. Generous: Playmakers are willing to give everything they have to carry their team. Not only are they willing, but they are prepared to do so.
  9. Influential: Playmakers lead by example. Team members will follow a playmaker when they won’t respond to anyone else. In the case of a highly talented team member who is not especially gifted in leadership, he may be an effective playmaker in his area of passion.

About the Quote:
Bear Bryant (1913-1983) was an American college football player and coach. He is most well-known for his 25 years as the head football coach at The University of Alabama. During his time there, he led the Crimson Tide to six national championships and 13 conference championships.