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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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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Letters to the College Athlete on a Team: Do you have SELF-CONTROL?

Part of being responsible means exercising self-control.  This includes your actions and your speech in response to your emotions.  An example would be controlling yelling in response to anger and frustration as a result of being unable to do something, or because something is more difficult to accomplish than you expect.

To be successful you have to be mindful of your actions and speech and how each affects the people around you.  What you say can uplift or motivate, or it can tear down, or ruin someone, an organization, or even you.

 

 “Come on, you got to catch the ball!”  I yelled at my teammate. She had missed the ball 3 times already. 

We were down 10 points, and no one on the team could seem to score. 

We weren’t getting rebounds.  So, we weren’t getting second chances at shots.

“D***n!” I screamed.  I missed a layup. 

Nothing got better.  I kept missing easy shots and my teammate still couldn’t catch the ball. 

We lost.

 

This was a familiar scene similar to basketball games that I played in at UAB.

This is the perfect example where anger and frustration ruled my actions and speech.  It is an example of lack of self-control.  As a result of lack of control of my actions and speech in response to my emotions, my team’s position in the game did not improve.  Nor did it make my teammates any more comfortable or confident.

Exercising self-control in your actions and speech when emotional influences are present, helps you concentrate on finding solutions instead of focusing on problems.  It supports an environment of order and calmness.

On a team, self-control allows you to make sound decisions with everyone at attention and listening because there are no distracting emotional actions to interfere with effective communication between members.  It allows you to consider consequences which will enable you to produce the desired outcome – to win.

Self-control reveals confidence, an attitude that can spread throughout your team.

Being responsible means making sound decisions.  To help make those decisions, I encourage you to begin exercising self-control of your actions and speech during competition.  Recognize when you begin to feel frustrated or angry.  Start to exercise thinking quickly on what words to say to uplift and what not to say.  Think about what actions to take, or not to take, to calm your teammates.

What you say and how you act have consequences.  Make sure those consequences are positive and for the benefit of your team.

What do you do when you get upset during competition?  How do your teammates react?  Comment below.

 

Letters to the College Athlete: How do you treat your OPPONENT?

Without opponents, there would be no sports.  As a college athlete, you are going to have to make honoring and respecting people an integral part of your identity.  This includes your opponents.  Your actions towards them have an effect on the competition.  Also, how you treat your opponents reflect on who you are as a person, and it is representative of what is accepted by the school and the organization for whom you play for.

 

“Number 4 and number 15, you two better stop it!”  We were warned by the referee. 

She pushed me.  I pushed her back. 

She was not getting that ball, not if I could help it.  She tried to elbow me in the face, but I ducked.

“You yellow b***h!”

“Shot!”

As I was coming down with the rebound, I swung my elbows in a side to side motion, trying to land a blow on some part of number 15’s body.  Dawg gone!  I didn’t get her!

We beat them.

After the game, she and I didn’t shake hands nor congratulate each other on playing a great game.

 

These were not the actions of athletes who honored and respected each other, their school, or the sport.  The inappropriate body contact, along with the name calling showed devaluing or a lack of respect for each other, and not congratulating each other at the end of the game showed a lack of honor between us.

This type of behavior distracts from the true purpose of competition.

An environment where athletes are honoring and respecting each other is one with minimal chaos.  Athletes exercising these concepts bring a positive image to themselves, their school, and the sport because their actions and behavior support a competition where everyone, including fans, can feel comfortable and confident of their safety along with enjoyment of watching and participating in the sport.

Respecting and honoring your opponents helps to keep the focus of the sport on the competing aspect.  It strengthens the integrity of the competition by helping to reduce activities that distracts from the main purpose of competition in sports- to see who’s the best and entertain.

Opponents are an important part of competition.  I encourage you to show honor and respect to your opponents by exercising sportsmanlike behavior towards them.  Begin by avoiding the usage of profanity and name calling toward them, and avoid the usage of inappropriate body contact.  Congratulate them on a win and show appreciation for the opportunity to compete against them.

In sports, every effort should be made to create and sustain an environment that is peaceful but competitive.  Honoring and respecting your opponent helps with this.

Do you see athletes not showing honor or respect to their opponents?  How do you feel about it?  Let me know at geralinelhandsome.com.

Letters to the College Athlete: Whose fault is it?

As a college athlete, you are going to have to develop your identity with a strong foundation in attributes that will help you succeed.  This will help you become attracted to people and situations that are conducive to your success in college and beyond.

Discovering your identity helps you monitor the people you choose to associate with.  If you have a solid foundation of who you are, you are going to gravitate toward people who add value to you and support your goals.

 

I knew I should have stayed on campus, but I left anyway.  I sat in my car in the middle of the projects in the rough part of Birmingham, Alabama.  A woman came to my car and asked, “Do you know of anybody that would want to buy these?”  She opened her hand to reveal different colors of pills.  I was unaware of what kind they were, but I did know she wasn’t a licensed mobile pharmacist.

I had many thoughts!

What if I got caught around her?  Would I go to jail?

No more school!  No more basketball!

It wouldn’t be my fault!  I don’t know her!  I didn’t know we were coming here!

I’m not responsible………

Or was I?

That was an actual scene from a time when I was in college at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Like a lot of people, I believed that just because I was not doing anything wrong, I was being responsible.

I did not know that being responsible means more than controlling your actions.

I did not know that being responsible means being aware of and taking steps to avoid people and situations that would damage or stop your efforts to becoming successful in college and beyond.

Avoid people whose presence distracts you from achieving your goals to be a successful student athlete.  For instance, someone who persistently tries to convince you to hang with them when you have to study is a person who does not have your best interest in mind.  This person can hinder you from being a successful student.  Therefore, avoid that type of individual.

You should not go with anyone, or by yourself, to any place that there is a possibility that you would get into trouble.  Just your presence could end your career, and possibly your life.

I encourage you make being responsible a part of the foundation of your identity.  Begin by being cautious of people and situations that could interfere with you achieving goals as a college athlete.

Do you have people in your life that you have to be cautious of?