How watching toy story 3 can teach the essentials of teamwork


So I went to see this movie the other day (what?  I’ve got a seven year old stepdaughter) and really liked it.  I’d heard so much good stuff about it, from kids and adults, that I figured it was a must see.  While I was watching it, I just thought of how applicable the plotline was for sports teams.  Now I certainly don’t want to spoil the movie for you, because as you can imagine, this movie was just full of unexpected plot twists and story lines (that’s sarcasm folks).  But I’d like to talk about a few of the overarching themes of the movie that you can highlight and use with your team.

Loyalty The movie hit this subject from a couple of angles.  The boy who owned the toys for years, Andy, is heading off to college and has to decide whether he’s gonna trash his toys or put them in storage.  All of the toys, but especially Woody (the cowboy in the picture above), are adamant about wanting to stay with Andy…to remain loyal.  Fast forward to later in the movie, Woody (who happens to be Andy’s favorite toy) chooses his toy friends over his own personal glory and happiness.  Lots of clips that can be shown to your team!

Cooperation To overcome their major challenge of the movie, Woody and his friends had to work together and trust that each would perform their jobs well and to the best of their ability.  They shared in adversity and put their heads together to figure out the solution.  There’s an about fifteen minute scene of how each of the toys had different jobs to do and while it’s very funny, it also highlights that every job on a team is important.  Mr. Potato Head didn’t think that his job was less important than Buzz’s, even though they were very different duties.  That’s a great lesson for teams!  Whether you’re a starter or reserve, or you’re the star hitter or an overlooked defensive player that never gets the glory…your role is vital and important to the team.

Friendship None of it would have worked without their friendship with each other.  Over and over again in the movie, they talk about staying together.  The movie is aimed at children, so subtlety isn’t on the menu.  Obviously this is something that they thought was important…we’re friends, we’ve been together all of this time and we’re going to stay together.  And isn’t that what we preach as coaches?  No matter what, we stay together as a team.  We support each other, we believe each other, and we make each other better.  This movie was like a sports season with its ups and downs, belief and doubt, and smiles and tears.

So I really enjoyed this movie and thought it had so many life applications for our profession.  As I was thinking through the themes of the movie, I started thinking that it sounded an awful lot like the Pyramid of Success.  So of course I went back to my book and it’s true!  Those three themes are part of the base of John Wooden’s idea of what made his teams successful…not bad for a movie about toys that come to life.

Hopefully you’ll check out this movie and when you do, come back and tell me about it.