Team Spirit




Below is the E-mail sent out just before the PITBULLS placed in the national final . 4 Months later I would like to add some more thoughts. In any team sport , Baseball , Hockey , Football and yes even Bridge when in a team event there is an intangible . This intangible quite often is the cause of the statement that the "best team does not always win " . This intangible is "team spirit" . How is this defined ?  In hockey and other team sports there are super stars that play the game better than their team mates . If this super star is a self centered egotiost who is critical of his teammates he can be a cancer on the team and very much detract from team spirit . The other players resent him and there is disharmony on the team . Attitude is felt by all members of the sport . If team members have "I do not care attitude" or a critical attitude , the team is doomed before they play an event . Morale becomes too low to perform well enough to win. These type of players are labeled as players "who do not want to play" and they hurt the team.


On the plus side , if all the members of a team like and respect each other this is a tremendous motivational force within the team . The atmosphere becomes more relaxed and the competition becomes more enjoyable . The opponent becomes the competition rather than your teammates . It's a sport cliché ( that is true ) you want to win not just because of yourself but because of your teammates and for those who believe that you can win . If team mates are also friends its like adding another player on the team . The team atmosphere is conducive to improving ones skill in the game and guess what they do improve !!


I have seen it many times in our sport . Teams with prima donnas on it who were constantly squabbling with each other this summer did not even qualify yet there bridge skills were quite substantial . Yet some nice husband/wife teams who had a good helping of team spirit did very well . Coaches in sports re-enforce team spirit over and over again . Why ? It is simply a necessity to perform and your best and win . Joe Silver called it "character" . You can label it however you like but you must be able to feel it . Bridge is no different as a team sport. Rotten apples spoil the barrel in our game also . This aspect of Bridge must be considered at least as an important Bridge skill as declarer play and bidding . It should not be neglected.




            One of the reasons you four are labeled PITBULLS in the first place is that you are very tenacious in your will to win . All four of you are very competitive at the bridge table and do not like to lose . All winning teams in any sport must have this will to win . A losing attitude will result in failure 100 % of the time .


            There is a danger in wanting to win too much . You bring added pressure on yourself and it detracts from both your enjoyment and your performance at the bridge table. Honestly , if you has your pick of all the women players in Alberta to make up a team ( Judy G excepted) would you not choose the four of you ?? Most people consider you favourites and this adds even more pressure if you let it.  You might want to win too badly, you become too intense and you "implode" as a team . We see it in hockey teams all the time . In front of the home fans and needing to win in order to clinch a birth in the Stanley cup finals and they come up with their worst effort . They tried too hard ! Their minds would not allow themselves to win !


            In team sports you have to prepare yourself mentally . Relax , relax and relax at the bridge table . Allow yourself time to think and enjoy yourself . If you are having fun at your job or your hobby/sport you will play your best . By becoming too intense you will be "barking" at the opponents , your partner and your teammates without even realizing what you are doing. Create a pleasant atmosphere and ooze self confidence and you will play better .


            Worry and stress are the killers in any sport and hobby . You do not need those demons as you have a lot more important things to think about . Exclusion Blackwood and "serious 3NT " come to mind . Act like winners by being overly polite to your opponents and to your partner . Play in a confident , "business like fashion" . No "hang dog" looks when things go wrong . No rationalizations , moaning about bad luck or relishing good luck . Avoid lows and highs and just keep things on an even keel .  Take the attitude that you are all seasoned bridge players with good judgment derived from years of experience. Trust your own judgment , gamble when appropriate and make life miserable for your opponents .


            There are only four of you in a grueling event . You four play a lot of bridge as it is , so I do not think stamina will be an issue . You have been working hard on your partnerships and I notice quite an improvement over the past few months . PITBULLS are winning set matches against tough opponents , winning Thurs nite IMP games , carrying coaches to 2Nd place in sectionals . The types of  wrong decisions now are the more difficult ones. Gone are the silly blunders and gross partnership misunderstandings .  We think you are ready to win so go out and do it  !!


Bob Crosby