Which is the toughest team sport? Why?

Which is the toughest team sport?

Or put another way, which sport requires the most demanding and diverse range of team skills in the field of play?

To win any competition, you need to understand the criteria for success: what are the judges going to take into account?

So what should we use to judge ‘team working’? There are some basics of team working that are critical. All individuals must;

+ Recognise their team: In many sports it is obvious, e.g. rowing where everyone is in the boat together, in others where you have substitutions it may be less obvious, e.g. ice-hockey, but in some where there are individual medals, individuals can be supported by unofficial team mates who sacrifice themselves for the another person, e.g. cycling.
+ Know the goals: e.g. score more points / goals than the opposing team in all of your matches.
+  Commit to team success as opposed to individual glory: recognise that personal success comes through team success.
+ Know each other’s technical skills and understand how they can be put to best use within the team, e.g. goal kicking, pitching and defending.
+ Understand how they can enable each other to make the most of their potential in pursuit of the team goal.
+ Respect and understand the competition: work out how they can be beaten.

However, all of these points are about preparation for the event, so which personal qualities matter in the field of play?

Key attitudes include:

+ Commitment
+ Motivation
+ Determination
+ Tenacity
+ Respect for others
+ Trust

Key skills and behaviours include:

+ awareness of others
+ decision making
+ speed of response
+ listening
+ expressing ideas
+ using personal strengths
+ supporting others
+ encouraging
+ creating opportunities for others
+ leadership
+ responding to others
+ initiatives
+ capitalising on opportunities
+ implementation of team strategy

If we accept these qualities as judging criteria, which sports are my contenders for the toughest team sport?

For me, some of the most popular sports aren’t contenders, football and hockey for example. Other sports that aren’t officially team sports e.g. cycling are surprisingly demanding on teams. (I expand on this elsewhere in my blog.) Cricket is interesting because of the diversity of roles, the speed of interaction in sports like basketball and doubles tennis/badminton are very demanding on teams whereas sailing demands effective teams with strong leadership.

And the winner is…

My current thinking is that rugby is perhaps the most demanding team-sport of all because of; the individual diversity of roles; constantly changing sub teams within the team; ‘set pieces’ built on by individual flair; and the need to work very closely and support each other in constantly changing circumstances.

What do you think? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.