By Travis Amadeo
Tony Romo. Derrick Rose. Sidney Crosby. What do these players have in common? Each of them is the star player of their respective team, yes; but they have all also suffered season-ending injuries that ended their team’s season prematurely.
At every level—from pee wee to the pros—most teams have a star player; a player that isn’t just a starter, but the anchor of the team, their all-star, the one who carries the squad at crunch time. Their contributions and importance to the team go without question.
But do we rely too heavily on those stars?
Much like Romo, Rose or Crosby, your star player can sustain an injury at any moment that removes them from play for days, weeks, or even the season. Should your team’s entire season be lost just because one player goes down?
If that star is a transcendent talent—like a LeBron James—they may be truly irreplaceable. Just look at what happened to the 2011 Indianapolis Colts when Peyton Manning was forced to miss the season after neck surgery. But when a player gets hurt, regardless of being a star, role player or third-stringer, it’s important to believe in the notion of ‘next man up.’
As a captain or coach, it is your responsibility to prepare the rest of your team (especially your back-ups) to be ready for game action. And it’s also your job to put them in a position to succeed.
While elite talent is hard to replace, it’s integral to your team that you develop all of your players into usable pieces. Successful teams need to live by the ‘next man up’ belief, and trust that their back-ups or second (or even third) lines are able to step right in. Almost every championship team boasts a deep bench, with players that contribute in moments large and small, no matter where they fall on the depth chart.
This is also helpful when it comes to game planning, as you typically build a plan around the talent you have. When you remove your best player, it may disrupt your entire team because you have to drastically alter your game plan. But if your team spreads the wealth and allows other players to play a significant role, a major injury to a major player won’t submarine your entire team if your game plan is flexible.
Sure, star players are stars for a reason, and it’s always tough to replace your most talented player—which is particularly true if they’re also your team leader. However, your team’s success shouldn’t ultimately hinge on one player.
It is a team sport, after all.
Is your team’s season over if your star player goes down? Or do you subscribe to the ‘next man up’ theory? Let us know in the comments!
Travis Armideo is Lead Marketing Specialist at Gladiator Custom Mouthguards.