Sam Walker, founder of the Wall Street Journal’s daily sports coverage section and author of The Captain Class, studied sports teams for years with a goal in mind: he wanted to figure out what the most dominant teams in sports history had in common.

He started by first identifying the seventeen most successful teams using several criteria, calling that group Tier One. 105 other teams, who failed to meet some criteria, are grouped into Tier Two. Eleven years later, he determined that it was the team captains – and seven characteristics they shared – that explained the difference between all-time greatness and other good but not quite so excellent teams.

In his book, Walker describes the seven core qualities these captains had in common. In this article, I will share with you a few of these characteristics that, as a player, you can cultivate to help your team accomplish more than ever before.

1. Give It Your All, Always (And Make Sure Your Teammates Notice)

We often say that a team is greater than the sum of its parts. But have you ever heard of social loafing?

In social psychology, social loafing refers to the concept that people are prone to exert less effort to achieve a goal when they work in a group than when they work alone.

In 1913, Maximilien Ringelmann, a French agricultural engineer, conducted an experiment in which he asked individual people to pull on a rope, while he measured the force they exerted. Then, he asked those same people to pull again, but with the help of other people. He discovered that as more and more people were involved in the task, each individual’s efficiency decreased. In 1979, scientists from the Ohio State University replicated the experiment, asking their students to shout as loud as they could while recording the decibel levels. They the students repeated their performance in group. During the group performance, their decibel levels decreased by 20 percent.

Can social loafing be overcome? It seems so.

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This article was published on Ultiworld, a website dedicated to the sport of Ultimate.

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