Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ten Things to Help You Join a New Team

When Ben Crenshaw graduated from UT, Harvey Penick is said to have told him to eat breakfast with good putters when he got on tour.  That is perfect advice for moving to the next level.  Surround yourself with people who are positive and successful.  Positive people are the brick layers of a strong foundation.  Negative people are like termites.  They slowly and secretly eat away at foundations.  Here is some advice from twenty years of observing players joining our teams.

1.  Keep an open mind.  Sometimes, when things are new and a bit scary, you look for easy friendships or situations.  Those easy situations are often not the healthiest.  Keep an open mind about your teammates and coaches and work to connect with all of them your first year.  Healthy relationships take work, so easy isn't always the best.  Sometimes the best relationships take work.

2.  Choose your battles.  When you step into a team, you also step into existing relationships, both good and bad.  Don't get drawn into other people's dramas.  You will be recruited to take sides, because numbers often equal power in disagreements.  Don't do it.  If it isn't your fight, don't take sides and save your opinion.  Even listening to complaints can be seen as agreement, so say something non-committal and walk away.

3.  Say YES!  You will get invited to things by your teammates.  Even though you have a meal plan, say yes to a meal after practice.  Even though you have studying to do, say yes to a pizza on a weekend night.  Even though a social situation seems uncomfortable, say yes and overcome your shyness.  If you say no over and over, you will quit getting invitations and soon, you will be watching others from the outside.  Don't say yes to everything, but make sure to join when you can.
SMU Team members run to congratulate Lindsey McCurdy on her win over UC Davis and clinching the team's win in the East-West Match Play Championship in September of 2014.
4.  Compete and shake hands.  If you play your best, you will raise the level of the team's talent.  It isn't about beating out your teammates, it's about making your team better.  Let go of the personal battles and work to always do your very best.  If your teammates don't like getting beaten, they need to play better.  You don't need to remind them of that, but you do need to keep it in your mind.

5.  Judge others by who they are 90% of the time.  Everyone has a crummy moment or two.  Make sure you let things go if a teammate or coach seems to be having a tough day.  Better yet, reach out to them and find a moment to talk or share a meal.  Whatever you do, don't blow it up out of proportion or report it to others.

6.  Communicate.  If you have a problem with a teammate, that person will never improve as a teammate to you unless you tell him or her the problem.  The worst thing you can do is tell a third teammate about the problem instead of the person involved.  There are few secrets on a team and information gets passed quickly.  By communicating with your teammate, you are working to solve problems within a team, but by communicating with others, you are working to grow problems on your team.  Carrying around past hurts or judgments will hurt you far more than it will hurt your teammate.  If you need help, ask a coach or captain to be present.

7.  Respect.  Successful teams don't have to like each other all the time, but you must have respect for each other.  Think of your family and you will understand.  You can fight with your brothers or sisters and still love them.  You can be angry at decisions your parents make, yet still respect their authority.  Teams are like families.  You won't like everyone all the time and you won't like decisions that are made.  However, you can still have respect for everyone on your team. 

8.  Be the Glue.  As a freshman, you won't be expected to be a leader, but you can start to learn the ropes of leadership.  You can start by being the glue.  Great teams stick together.  Figure out how to be the glue that holds the group together.  You can connect people through invitations, mediation, laughter, tags, competitiveness and goofiness.  Freshmen are generally watching things a bit and trying to figure out where they fit.  Use your observations to help bring all together with little gestures.  That is step one to becoming a leader.  Leaders make sure everyone is following.  Poor leaders leave people behind.

9.  Use your parents for venting and advice, but not to solve your problems.  Your parents are very experienced and will probably offer you great advice for how to deal with situations.  They want the best for you and might still feel the need to protect you from pain.  Don't let them.  Happily take their advice, but take full responsibility for your situations and relationships.  Explain to them that you need to vent or that you need advice, but that it isn't their place to take action.  Maturity means that you will have to become independent of your parents and their help in your relationships.

10.  Control what you can control.  You can't control what your teammates think of you.  You can't control your coach's decisions.  You can't control the group dynamics.  You can control your own attitude, communications, actions, reactions and character.  You will never have the ability to make people like you, so plan to be yourself and accept yourself and you will be better for it.  Time is on your side.

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