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We all know the frustration we experience when our team is having a bad day. They come back +170 instead of 620, or they forgot which keycard they are playing and bid a slam off two aces, perhaps they misdefended a doubled part score and failed to set it. Everybody has days like that.

Practicing our good teammate skills, we commiserate as best we can: «Unlucky», or «Things will go better next match» or best yet, saying nothing at all when things are truly terrible. Satellite Stew Mackiegan (God rest his soul – Oh, and I will save the story of his nickname for another day), a teammate of mine from when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, started talking about our dinner plans whenever our partners had just been buried in an afternoon match, and that helped all of us get past the distracting thoughts of a painful loss. Evening losses begot sports talk, or if the match was truly silly, which bar to visit became the immediate topic. All in all, he was a fine team member.

While consoling our teammates is a fine action to take, it is not our greatest responsibility to them. After the most horrendous loss, we need to be the strong players they expect us to be. We are not responsible for carrying them, in fact just the opposite. We need to play as if they are the best players in the room. We need to play our game.

Many teams have lost national or world championships by coming apart after a bad set. It is a particularly bad situation if the best pair has generated the poor result. They often feel the need to get it all back on the next set, taking risks they would not generally take. By taking this approach they stop playing in the manner that makes them strong to begin with; they are less than they could be.

Your teammates picked you for your game. You owe it to them to be the partnership they chose to play with, nothing more, nothing less. A truly good team is one that weathers the occasional losses and celebrates its successes. As long as the party does not prevent them from a similar performance the next day.