How to Accept Your Role On The Team and Optimize Your Experience

What role do you play on your team?  Of all the roles to choose on a team, would you ever choose to sit the bench?  I presume not. 

Are you in the role that you have earned and the one you want? 

Many athletes find themselves in roles they do not like. 

How do you handle your role and still optimize your sports experience?

This is a short list of what some players do: 

  • Blame the coach
  • Blame the team
  • Blame the equipment or the gear
  • Blame their parents
  • Blame themselves
  • Give up or quit playing

Here is another list of less popular choices: 

  • Work harder
  • Talk to the coach 
  • Keep lines of communication open
  • Help the team get better anyway
  • Know that your time will come.   

No doubt, it is hard to work so hard on your sport and then not get the reward you are looking for. 

But before reading any further, it is worth mentioning this very important point.  All coaches have different needs to fill on the roster.  It goes beyond the role you play. They care more about how you handle any role and how hard you work. They care about your skill level and your attitude.  

So what can be done?  How about starting with accepting the role?  Once you accept it, you can move forward with the process of changing it.  

All you need are the right mindset and some tips!

Young female athlete holding water bottle and pointing finger to blame someone

Avoid the blame game

Blaming usually causes more harm than good and probably won’t lead to more playing time for you.  Blame just brings more negativity to the program, the team, your family and yourself.  

Even if you feel wronged, blaming won’t help you gain a minute.  Instead of blaming someone, try some of these other options. 

Stay the course

Giving up on yourself or others means you don’t believe. You’re tossing in the towel. You’re quitting. This also brings negativity to the team and will probably cause further isolation from you. It becomes awkward and no doubt uncomfortable. 

Choose to stick with it and learn every good and positive thing you can pull out of the experience. It will be worth it, and you will be happier for it. 

Stick it out and try to make your situation better before jumping to quitting

Give your role all you’ve got

To the best of your ability, give your role everything you can. Make a commitment to be the absolute best at the role you are given.  No one can do this role like you can. Make this your motivation. 

Make it important to you and feel good about the work you are doing within that role.  Let others see you take pride in your job.

Extremely focused and determined female athlete working hard and swinging a kettle bell

Enhance the role you are given

Make your current role seem like it is the most important role on the team.  Enhance it and make it something great.  

I have seen walk-ons (a player that just tries out for a team and makes it without being recruited beforehand and usually with no scholarship money) come onto teams and become starters, leaders, and huge difference-makers.  

For example, if you are not in the starting group on your team, and you are in a back-up role, become the loudest cheerleader when you are on the bench. 

Make it your mission to add to your responsibilities by making your situation better and becoming a great teammate in the process. 

Evaluate positive behaviors

Take note that I did not say “compare” your situation to your teammates. Instead of comparing and calculating what they are not doing compared to you, evaluate them and pick out the positive things they are doing to hold the role they have.  

What positive things can you learn from them and apply to your current situation? Maybe you can use what you learn immediately in your current role, or take note as something to work on for your next opportunity.  

Focus outward instead of inward

I know it sounds hard, but it really isn’t once you get going.  Focusing outward just takes a certain mindset.  In other words, how can you help your team and teammates be more successful?  

Usually if one person is successful, it breeds more success, and before you know it you become more successful, too. Your role could even change for the better.  

Coach talking to one of his players who is sitting in the stands with her arms wrapped around her knee

Talk to coach

Keep the lines of communication open with your coaching staff.  You may not understand their choices, but they are doing what they think will bring wins. If you don’t understand it, you can always ask questions. 

Use conversations with the coach as learning experiences. Ask your questions and get your answers, and then keep going. Never feel like you can’t ask a coach a question.  You may not always like the answers, but you always learn.  

You’ll use these communication skills for the rest of your life. The more you practice them, the better you will be.  

Keep working on your skill set

Being assigned a certain role does not mean you will have that role forever, especially if you continue to work on your skills.  

Make sure you are doing everything you can to improve on the things you need to improve upon. What does your coach say you need to improve on? Make sure you understand in detail what that means. 

Then go and work on it.  

Stay positive

No matter which role you receive or what your situation is, you will continue to grow, learn, and develop the skills you need to continue your education and your playing career. 

These lessons will leave college with you, and you will be better prepared for life as a result.  

When you remain positive, you set yourself up for the possibility of something amazing coming from the experience, maybe something that you didn’t even realize before.  

It’s way more fun this way as well.  

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