I wanted this blog to be honest, and share with people what is on my mind, so the topic of this post is something I’ve been thinking about all week. I tend to be an overthinker and this post reveals a bit of my analytical side, more specifically my desire to understand not only people’s actions, but also their motivations…. I suppose what it all comes down to is understanding empathy. Don’t worry I’m not attempting to write about a psychoanalysis here….just sharing what’s been on my mind.
Recently a team was selected to travel to the U.S and play in a 4 games series against the USA. During the last week of training, those selected have a new motivation to train for upcoming series. But what about those that weren’t named to the team? Who now have to practice with the team, knowing they’re preparing to send them off on a tour they wanted to be a part of.
I have been fortunate enough to have been named to every tour and competition since joining the Canadian Team in 2009. Being named to the team is something I will never take for granted, but also something that I will never just be satisfied with. The only team I will be truly satisfied with is being named to the team that’s going to the Olympics. Although I was named to the U.S tour this time, I know what it feels like not to be named to a team. I wanted to take this opportunity to observe and understand the feelings of my teammates that weren’t on this team list. We’ve all been there, the team list is announced, you don’t see your name and that bottomless pit you’ve felt in your stomach all day finally hits bottom, and the sinking feeling consumes your body. The english have a good word for this: gutted. You don’t see you own name, so you begin to analyze those players who’s names are on the list. Then you begin to compare yourself to them, because logically you assume this list of players must represent the standard. You begin to compare yourself almost in a denial mindset, that you should’ve made the team; well she got a lower fitness score than me, she didn’t train well last practice so I should be on the team. But then you remind yourself that you weren’t selected, so if she got a worse fitness score, or a worse hit or whatever you singled out, then how bad must you be for her to make it over you?
The comparison game is a road to nowhere. The way I see it is that the coach already has a picture in his mind of you as a player. Only you can change that picture, no matter what any other player does, it won’t affect how capable he thinks you are. So it’s not about comparing yourself to other players; finding their weaknesses and making sure they are you strengths, finding their strengths and trying to match or surpass them. The reality is you don’t know what the coach sees in them, if you don’t know that then how can you make him see you are better than them? Each player has a unique talent or style, and you can either shape that to fit what you think the coach wants, or you can express it fully, showcasing your talent in a way that will make the coach find a place for you on the team. I’m not telling you to showboat, never listen to tactics, and ignore advice because it doesn’t suite your style. What I’m saying is, you’re never going to make yourself into another player on the team, so don’t waste your energy fighting against your unique talent. Use this talent to make yourself stand out, differentiate yourself from players don’t compare yourself.
The coach thinks he knows what he wants, show him something better. Shifting this mentality from being the best on the team, to being the best of yourself. For right now being the best on the team has an end point, an achievable goal that can cause a team to plateau, we need to stretch ourselves and realize being the best on our team isn’t good enough. We’re slowly pushing standards forward, but in very measurable ways. If every player starts pushing to improve every aspect, every single element of their game, these standards won’t be as measurable because every player is raising the bar in their own unique way, and we’re all bringing that much more to the table. There is no flat standard or one ideal player that every player needs to play like. Bring to the team what makes you great and push to improve it everyday.
Here’s a picture of my teammate Ange. She has been injured for 6+months, but she’s been pushing herself in every possible way as hard as she can, and I have been truly inspired by my teammate.