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: 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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College Athlete: Do you need a REFEREE?

As a college athlete it is to your advantage to recognize all the authority figures in your environment.  This includes those in the sport in which you play.  Once you have determined who these authority figures are, identify their areas of expertise and give them what they require of you.

She hit me again.   “Hey Ref, you didn’t see that?”

“Cool it, number 23!”

Shot. 

She bumped me on the arm.  Missed again. 

I can’t get open.  She’s holding my jersey. 

“Ah, come on Ref!  Man, she holding me!”

Whistle blows.

It was about time he called her for a foul.

Wrong!

“Number 23, I call the game not you!”

“Technical foul on number 23.”

This is an all too familiar scene while I was playing basketball.  You think that those officiating the game are not doing a good job or they are giving your opponent too many breaks.  Whatever the case maybe, as you can see above the officials are still in control.  You abide by their decisions or be penalized.

As an athlete there are times when you forget you are playing a game and your actions become dictated by personal feelings and not by what is allowed by the game.  You forget the rules and that everyone is watching.  You are in your own world.

The referees are there to keep you in the game mentally and physically.  They are there as a way of reminding you that it is a game and a particular game.

Every sport have rules that everyone is expected to follow.  These rules serve to maintain order and to keep the game fair for all who are competing.  The officials are present to enforce these rules, to level the playing field.  They are the experts of the rules of the game.  They know what is allowed from every aspect of the game and for each person participating in the game.

These authority figures know the whole purpose for the game for everyone involved.  They know what it takes to get the parts to work together to create the desired experiences.

They are trained to keep the game organized and to make sure that the game flows smoothly and in a manner that is enjoyable and safe to watch and play.  The integrity of your sport is dependent on how successful they are.

To sustain the integrity of your sport and the game, I encourage you to honor and respect the officials by allowing them to do their job.  Comply with their decisions without resistance.  Allow any disagreements about any call to be settled between the officials and your coaches – the authority figures.

One last flashback.

Remember on the playground when you were playing and there was always this one player that called a foul whenever he, or she, didn’t hit a shot, but call the foul back if the shot was made?  Or, when you were playing and players started arguing whose ball it was and it took about an hour before the game started again? Image a different game with these same people, but with a referee present.

Do you think the game would have been different?

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To the College Athlete on a Team: How are you going to be in your next year?

The next year of your career is coming.  It represents a new level of your life and will have new things for you to master.  In order to position yourself to be among the best in your sport and professional career, you have to work to master important things at the level you are currently on, and prepare for advancement to your next level, as well.   Learning everything that you need to know at each respective level helps in preparing you for the next.

It was my freshman year at UAB and I was playing in the point guard position in a game.

As I dribbled down the court, all I could think of was to get the ball down the court and get rid of it.  The ball was like a hot potato in my hands. 

It seemed that whenever I played point, our opponents always applied more pressure or full court pressed us.

 I was not ready.  I was inexperienced and it showed.  My teammates had no confidence in me and neither did I.

My sophomore year was a little better.

My junior and senior years were totally different.  We were rarely full court pressed.  I had gained more experience and I was prepared. 

Why?

Because I had learned that each year of your career brings new challenges to conquer.   You will have to master key things at one level, in order for the transition to the next to be smoother and prepare you for those challenges that await you at the next.

Therefore, accomplishing or fulfilling what your team requires of you in a specific year, makes it less difficult for you to step into your new role as an upper classman in the next year.

Your coach and teammates will expect you to lead and be able to take on a more responsible role on the team.

If not, you risk falling behind.

I encourage you to determine what skills, personal character etc. you need to have to be successful at the current stage of your career and try to develop them.  Do this by talking with your coach and also by paying attention to other teams, especially those athletes and teams that are winning.  Notice how your counterparts perform.  Observe how they are treated by their coaches and other members of their team.  See what is required of them.  Also, do the same to determine what it would take for you to be successful in your next year.  Include studying your teammates who are upper classmen.

Never reach a state where you are not growing.

You should always be seeking knowledge and learning everything that will prepare you for your next level.

Remember all knowledge that you acquire from the previous levels of your career should be applied to the subsequent levels of your career.  This includes knowledge obtained from both competitive and academic experiences.

If executed correctly, you should see improvement in your athletic skills, and personal character, and should be getting closer to obtaining your degree.

Are you getting ready for the next year in your career?

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Is your name what I say it is?

Effective communication with others starts with the name.

Honoring and respecting others plays a major role in getting along with people.  The first step in getting along with others is finding something in common with them.  That can only be accomplished if you get to know them.

Each of us has a name that we prefer to be addressed by, whether it was given to us or we chose it.  Each of our respective names is special and we each have the right to say “This is my name.”

When anyone calls your name it means they are trying to start a conversation or communicate with you.

I’m going to call you what I want!

Even though these words were never told to me verbally, they often echoed in my mind when someone, who I had no real connection to, gave me a nickname.

Geral, Gerl, Gerald, G, Ger, Gerri, Geraldine, Gerline, Geraline, and Lenora.

These are all names that people call me.  I answer to all of them, however, my response is not all the same.

I naturally respond differently to each name, depending on who is addressing me and how they came to call me by the name.

Why?

I’ve also been guilty of addressing or giving people nicknames and have been corrected a few times.  I really didn’t understand why they got upset with me.  After all, I thought we were good friends.

But I was wrong.

I failed to get to know them enough to really know how they wanted to be addressed.  I just assumed it was okay for me to call them what I wanted, based on how I felt about them.

It showed a lack of consideration and respect on my part.

When you do not call someone by the name they prefer, you are saying, “I don’t care what your name is. Your name is not special.  It has no value to me.”

It’s equivalent to your name being a piece of paper and someone wadded it up and threw it in the trash can.

As a result of this action, the person may not be receptive to what you have to talk about or listen to you as you would hope or expect them to.

Think about walking down the street and someone yells “Jane!” trying to get your attention, but your name is Jean.  Unless you really know the person, you’re probably going to keep walking.

Same principle.

Take for an example your teammate.  If you call her by a name other than what she prefers, a barrier of communication will start to build up.  She does not want to be called that name so every time she is called it, a feeling of uneasiness is going to come over her.  Sometimes to a point where when you talk, she may tune you out.  So, communication between you and her becomes hindered.

With that being said, I encourage you to get to know others in order to understand how each person wants to be addressed by you.  Don’t assume because everyone calls someone a nickname that they like to be addressed by that.

So, ask and get to know them to see what they prefer.

It shows and gives respect to them.  You are also honoring them by awarding them with something they deserve.

Do people call you by a name you do not prefer?  What do you do when that happens?

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