Dr. Fritz Ettl: Teamwork

This post is part of a series about the workshop presentations delivered at the 2018 ACT Skills Summit.


Teamwork involves working constructively and cooperatively with others in pursuit of a common cause or objective.


Dr. Fritz Ettl, Assistant Professor of Human Movement and Health Science Education at Butler University, gave an engaging presentation on Teamwork as it relates to sports and coaching. Ettl focused on a “So What?” and “Now What?” approach in his presentation — focusing on concrete takeaways attendees could bring back to their programs. He brought knowledge both from his time as an academic researcher and from his time working in the field with Coaching4Change.


Dr. Ettl gave several key pieces of advice based on his own experiences, including:

  • Communities of Practicing. Holding informal events where people can engage socially, discuss their work, and problem-solve together allows you to learn from the experiences and successes of other organizations.
  • “Turning it Over.” Giving students the opportunity to be leaders (all students, not just team captains or top performers), and preparing them to do so builds confidence and team strength. If you’re asking a student to lead the daily warm-up, practicing with them ahead of time and giving them the opportunity to prepare will make them a more confident leader.
  • Competencies. Competencies are, effectively, rubrics for staff. In the same way we give students rubrics with clear expectations, staff also need to be given the tools to be successful. Competencies paint a very clear picture of what success looks like, and what steps can be taken to get there.
  • Job Cards. Giving students cards with specific roles (headcounter, group leader, etc.) written on them every day gives students the opportunity to take on many different roles within the group, and lets them learn how to be a team player from multiple perspectives.


Dr. Ettl left attendees with a quote from Don Hellison, “Don’t mistake activity for development.” Just because there are activities going on and students are participating, it’s not necessarily true that they are developing the skills we’re hoping to teach. Conscious effort must be made, through approaches like competencies and the others listed above, to make sure that students are truly acquiring the skills we are trying to teach.

Materials from this session as well as the rest of the sessions from the 2018 ACT Skills Summit can be found here.