Athlete: Are you a High Maintenance Player?

As an athlete, part of being responsible means learning everything your coach is teaching to you and applying it during games.  This also involves keeping yourself mentally ready to continually apply what you’ve learned.

Good job, Geraline!

It’s okay, Geraline!

Coach, was I supposed to run through on that play?

Coach, was I supposed to switch on that defense?

Keep your head up, Geral!

Don’t quit, Geral!

Above are some of the questions I have asked, and some of the things my coaches have said to me to boost my performance in various games.  At one time or another in my career, I was asking too many of those questions, and requiring my coaches to make too many of those type statements.  During those times, I felt like I needed constant praise, motivation, and guidance from my coaches in order for me to play well.

Those times clearly showed that I was once a high maintenance athlete.

Like a lot of players, I didn’t realize that game time is when your coaches strategically use what they have taught you, to win against competitors.  It is not the time to teach you what you should already know.  Therefore, explaining to you what you should be doing, and constantly trying to find ways to boost your self-esteem is not an efficient use of their time and energy.  It interferes with their focus which is to concentrate on how to defeat the opposing team.

Over time, I learned that the players that play the most, and the most desirable, are those who don’t require so much of their coaches’ attention.   They are the athletes that have a never give up attitude, and they learn what they need to know and execute it without making many mistakes. These athletes can be trusted to not give up when their team is behind, and they will give their all without having to be constantly encouraged to do so.

Therefore, I encourage you to become a desirable athlete by finding ways to motivate yourself. Learn what is required of you by your coaches during team practices.  Realize that sometimes it is necessary for you to take time outside of practice to learn what you need to do for competition.

Exercising these principles will help you become ready to compete physically and mentally without relying so heavily on your coaches.

How to do you stay motivated?

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Athlete: What are You Doing to Your Body?

Your athletic and professional careers are not the only important things to plan for.  You should plan for your health, too.  Part of being responsible means taking care of your body.  As an athlete, you not only have a responsibility to your team to keep your body in good health so that you’ll be able to perform as required in your sport, you also have an obligation to yourself.

 

We were all about to sit down to play cards. One of the people visiting the apartment brought a pack of cigarettes.  I was the youngest among them, so I felt that was my chance to please them.   So, I took a cigarette.  Besides the occasional cough in between puffs, I didn’t see any harm in smoking just one.

I thought it was harmless, but it wasn’t.  I had no idea how that one little cigarette would affect my performance. 

The next day, I had one of the worst practices. My chest felt like it was stopped up.  With every sprint and play I ran, I found myself desperately gasping for air.  I couldn’t breathe.  I knew I was in shape, but I just couldn’t keep up.  It had to be the cigarette.  My body was not used to it.  It didn’t like it; that response proved it.

 

Your body is the only one that you will get.  Take care of it not just for your sport but for yourself.  You owe it to you.  Things you do that you consider fine now, may have damaging effects to your body later.  Remember, each level of your life is a stepping stone to the next.

What you learn or build on in one stage prepares you for the next.  Your health is no exception.  Loss of health can harm your success because without good health, it would be difficult to do anything physically, emotionally, and sometimes financially.

What you put in it, or do to it, today will affect it tomorrow.  The effects of the feel good experiences you are having today are not going to feel the same later.  Depending on what it is, the more you use or participate, the less enjoyment you’ll get, and you will eventually need more to get the initial effect that you enjoyed, which damages your body more.

In other word, you may be having fun with things that you know you should not be doing or consuming now, but how will you feel later on in your life?

Therefore, I encourage you to develop habits now that will keep your body healthy for your years after sports.  This includes eating as healthy as you can, eliminating or lessening consumption of toxic substances, and limiting other activities, such as not getting enough rest, that could potential damage your health in the future.

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Athlete on a Team: ENJOY YOURSELF!

One of the perks of being in college is that you get to meet a lot of people that you would not normally meet otherwise.  During your off-season, not only concentrate on improving your skills, but take time to enjoy yourself with others.  Associations with key people can help make your college life fun and exciting, along with contributing to your personal growth and development.

  A person, alone off in college, isolated with few quality friendships and support systems, has a limited chance of personal growth and enjoyment.

As a college athlete, you have a limited amount of time during your season to socialize.  Therefore, most of your friendships, outside of your teammates, will probably develop during the off-seasons.  These friendships, along with those with your teammates, can be very important to the enjoyment of your college experiences.

Association with the right people is an efficient way to help with your personal growth and development.  The right people are those with the personal attributes, or are striving for the personal qualities that you are aspiring to get to, can help steer you in the direction towards success.  Each of you could be a gauge for the other.  That is, to keep each other on track.

So, I encourage you to:

Use this time to get to know your teammates outside of just playing and practicing.  Perhaps you all can explore the town.  Go places together and have clean fun.

Connect with your support systems, such as family and close friends.  These are the people that keep you mentally strong, energized, and motivated through the ups and downs of your college life.  So, spend some quality time with them.  Enjoy them.  Let them enjoy you.

Find out your likes and dislikes.  What do you enjoy doing?  What type of people you enjoy being around or having fun with?

Develop new friendships.  Get to know people in your classes. You never know what type of long term relationships you could develop.

One last thing.

Evaluate all friendships.

Remember, you’re seeking friendships of those with character traits that you’re aspiring to have for success in every part of your life.   Those like honor and respecting people, being responsible, and being unselfish.

Enjoy yourself!  These can be some of the best years of your life!

Tell me how you’re enjoying yourself.

Let me know at Athlete’s Voice to Integrity (geralinelhandsome.com)

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Athlete: A Team Divided will Fall!

One of the roles of your coach and teammates is to push you to become better.  Healthy competition among each other creates opportunities for each of you to grow in athletic skills and performance outside of regular competition with team opponents.

It’s not personal, it’s for the team.

From my last post, I told you about the meeting with my coach after my first season at UAB.  Recall he said,

“I’m going to be honest with you.  I really don’t think that you are going to be a major factor on the team next year.  You see, we’ve got some really good players coming in next year and they are playing at the level you are playing at right now.”

 Then he said, “You might play a little, but I doubt you play at all.”

When I left that meeting, my coach and teammates, the future and present ones at the time, became my enemies.  They all became my enemies.

My thoughts were,

Shoot, don’t nobody care about me.  He don’t care about me.  If he did he wouldn’t replace me like that.

I became determined not to make it easy for anyone to take my spot.  I couldn’t care about them anymore.  Which meant, I wasn’t going to help them.

So, the next season, my sophomore year, I stopped smiling and hanging with anyone who was a part of my team.  As far as I was concerned, I had to take care of me.  So, everything became about me.

Me!  Me! Me! Me! Me!

I became more of an athlete with a selfish attitude then a teammate out for the good of my team.  I was concerned only for me and not for the needs or feelings of others.  Most of my actions were concentrated on pleasing myself, sometimes at the expense of others.  My main objective was to show everybody, especially my coach and teammates that I could play.

I had taken my coach’s efforts as personal attacks on my ability to play.  However, he was just trying to motivate me to improve, to become a better player by introducing the thought of competition.

It worked from an individual standpoint.  I improved.  But, from a team’s perspective, a selfish player weakens the team.

Why?

Because it becomes two sets of goals – selfish player’s goals and then the team’s goals.  A team divided most likely will fall.  The selfish player is a part of the weak link.

I encourage you to become an unselfish teammate by setting your mind on what is best for your team; allowing your teammates to be in the spotlight; helping your teammates when you can; being considerate of your teammates’ differences; allowing your teammates to have an opinion; and being eager to listen and follow your coaches’ instructions.

What is the last thing you helped your teammate to do?

Let me know at Athlete’s Voice to Integrity (geralinelhandsome.com)

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Athlete: What do you do during your OFF-SEASON?

As an athlete you will have down time in your sport, the off-season.  What you do during this season will have a significant effect on you during your performance season.  It is during the off-season when you can hone your existing skills and learn new ones.  It’s the perfect time to improve because you can take an inventory of and focus on your weaknesses without the pressures associated with performance during the regular season.

It was my turn.  I went to my coach’s office and sat down in front of him. 

He said something like, “Well, Geraline.  It’s the end of the season.”

I was like “Yeah.”  Smiling and everything because I had got to play a lot during the season.

Then he said, “I’m going to be honest with you.  I really don’t think that you are going to be a major factor on the team next year.  You see, we’ve got some really good players coming in next year and they are playing at the level you are playing at right now.”

I sat there, stunned.

Then he said, “You might play a little, but I doubt you play at all.”

 

This was a scene with my coach at the end of my first season at UAB.  In another article, I’ll share what happened in the rest of that meeting.

This scene revealed that my coach didn’t believe that I would be responsible or disciplined enough to come back the next season a better player.

Why?

Because during my first season, he had seen signs from me that had proven that to him.

When I first entered college, I did not have a clue that I would have to improve in order to remain competitive.  The notion never entered my mind.

I guess I thought all I had to do was continue to play like I did in high school.  I really didn’t know that I needed to be working on my skills all the time to get better.  Because in high school, I didn’t do that.  I played pickup games with those in my neighborhood, but that was about it.

No ball handling drills. No conditioning.  Nothing.

The meeting with my coach was a wake-up call for me.

So, if you are an athlete in your off-season, I encourage you to develop a schedule which would allow you to focus and work on those skills that you are weak in.  Add conditioning exercises.  Ask for help to create this schedule from your coach.  Your coach may also be able to suggest someone that could help you.  Update your coach on your progress throughout the off-season.

These actions will show your coach that you are serious about being a major part of your team.  It will show him/her that you value his knowledge and expertise.  It will also help you to develop a stronger relationship with him/her because of the communication that will occur between you two.  This part is really important if you are, or plan to be, a leader on your team.

So, what are you going to do during the off season to improve yourself as an athlete?

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Athlete: Do you THANK those who SUPPORT YOU?

In order for you to advance or excel in any area of your life you are going to need some kind of support.  You can get that support through acts of kindness.

As an athlete, you enjoy the rush associated with competing along with the idea of people watching you prove you are the best.  The more people that come to see the better.  Those people are your main supporters.  They are your fans.  Fans support your team, the school you represent, and you.

 “Number 23, you played a great game!”

I gave a halfhearted, “Thank you.”

I don’t remember seeing that person at any of the other games again.

After another game…….

 “Number 23, you played a great game!  We going to stop your $@s next time!  We got something waiting on you!”

“Oh, alright!  We going to beat y’all again!

 That time I was joking with a smile.

Not only did he start coming to some of our games, he brought friends and family with him.

The difference in attracting the respective fans to my games was in my response.  In the first game, my response was showing that I did not care whether he was at the game.  My response did not acknowledge that he was actually a fan of mine.  He took the time to congratulate me for my performance and I was unappreciative.

In the second game, my response was showing that I enjoyed that he was at the game, and looked forward to him coming back.  Not only did he come back he brought more fans.

Without fans there would be no sport.  So give them honor and respect.

At every opportunity thank those who come to see you play or come to your games.  This shows them that you appreciate them for taking time and spending money to support you and your team.  This one action will play a big part in them returning.

I also encourage you to recruit fans.  Begin by being friendly to people.  Keep in mind all are potential supporters.  Begin in your classes with your classmates.  Be nice and polite to them.  Invite them to your games.  As you stroll through campus on your way to class, greet those that you cross with a smile.  If possible, say hello.  Practice this whether people respond to you or not.  You never know who will come to support you just because you were nice to them.

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Athlete: Do you think your COACH DOES NOT KNOW what he/she is doing?

As an athlete your ultimate goal is to reach your highest potential in athletic skills, to perfect your performance, and excel in your athletic career.  But how are you going to do that?  Who is going to help you?  Where do you start?

The answer to all of these questions resides with your coach.  Your coach has the resources that will help you achieve your athletic goals.

 

It was late in the 4th quarter and we were neck and neck with our opponent.  Both our teams stayed within 2 point of each other.

I was scoring and keeping my man from scoring.

All of a sudden the horn was sounded for a substitution.

“Geral, I’m in for you.”

“What?”

“Coach told me to come in for you.”

I went to bench angry and confused. 

Why did he take me out?  He don’t know what he doing.

We lost.

 “Geral, why he took you out?  Y’all would have won if he would have kept you in. He must don’t know what he doing.”

“Yeah!  We would have won.  He don’t know what he doing!”

 

How many of you have ever thought that your coach did not know what he or she was doing?  As you can see, I sure have.

In this particular game, there was a player who played in the post position on the other team that was scoring and rebounding.  Although I was scoring, it was not enough.  There was a need to change our defense, and bring in a stronger rebounder than I was.  It was a coaching decision made for the team.  We just didn’t happen to win.

My actions were less than honorable and respectful.  The comment I made about my coach not knowing what he was doing showed I devalued him.   It showed when I did not protect his reputation.  Someone you value you protect.  By me making that statement, it contributed to destroying his reputation as a coach.  It was even more significant, because I was part of the team.

Coaches are the experts who can guide you through your athletic career.  They are equipped with the skills and education to help you reach your highest potential.  Your success as an athlete depends on your application of what you learn from them.

You can only learn from them by recognizing they are the experts and enthusiastically taking their instruction.

This can only be accomplished if you create an attitude towards them that supports open communication between you and them.  This requires you to have an attitude that honors and respects them.  Honoring and respecting your coach is the first step towards succeeding as an athlete.

You honor your coaches by doing everything they required of you.  You respect your coaches by valuing their knowledge and expertise.

They know what it takes for you to get to the next level in your career, and have the contacts to get you there.  Coaches have the knowledge and resources to help you learn how to improve your athletic skills and performance.  They know what it takes for you to become a great athlete.

Therefore, I encourage you to develop an attitude that honors and respects your coaches.  Begin by being eager to follow their instructions without resistance, obey all the rules set by them, resist making negative comments about their coaching decisions to anyone, and discuss with them any concerns or issues you may have with them.

Have you ever thought your coach didn’t know what he was doing?

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