Playing in adult sports is a great way to get some exercise and make friends. No matter what your job or family life, taking a break to get away for athletic pursuits is good for the mind and body.
Good sportsmanship is emphasized in children’s leagues but sometimes those principles go out the window when adults are the players. A big benefit of playing on a sports team is socialization, so being a good teammate is important. Having a winning attitude, no matter what the outcome, will make the experience more positive for you and everyone else playing alongside you, whether you’re playing basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball or any other team sport.
Take a look at a few ways to be an upbeat, encouraging player that people want on their team:
1. Show Up
It’s best to view team sports participation like you would view going to work or meeting a volunteer obligation. If you commit to being part of a league, then go to your practices and make games a priority. Be on time to practice, games and any other team events. Of course there are always things that will come up, but don’t put your team on the back burner. Think of how much better your team will perform if everyone commits to showing up.
2. Cheer for Others
Team sports are meant to be interactive. When you aren’t on the field or court, stay in the game by encouraging others around you. Not only will you be a good teammate, but you will learn more about your sport by paying attention to the way others play it. Enthusiasm is contagious so trigger a team culture of cheering with your own example.
3. Know your Strengths and Weaknesses
Let your teammates know exactly what you are good at and comfortable contributing to the game. This doesn’t mean you can’t challenge yourself to learn more along the way, but being realistic about what you can and cannot do will help your team. Don’t take every shot if you are really only good at lay-ups and don’t offer to play first base if you’re only comfortable playing in the outfield.
4. Be Flexible
In addition to offering your strengths, be willing to fill in where the team needs you the most. That may mean not always getting your first choice but view it as a chance to prove yourself in a different capacity. You may even find a new position that you like even more.
5. Say “Congrats”
When you don’t win (and this will happen occasionally), be a good sport and let the opposite team members know they played well. This includes shaking hands at the end of the game, and even congratulating the coach. Of course your first loyalty is to your own team but it will be a warmer environment for everyone if you show good sportsmanship, whether you win or lose.
6. Remember to Have Fun
This one can be especially tough if you have a strong competitive side. Sometimes you’ll win, others you’ll lose. It’s okay to be passionate about the sport but remember it is supposed to be social. If you have a bad game or practice, try to remember the reason you joined the team in the first place. Was it to become a perfect basketball or flag football player? Probably not. Enjoy yourself and everyone around you will have a better time too.
Whatever your reason for getting involved in an adults’ sport league (exercise, relaxation, competitive drive), keep in mind that you are just one person. Consider what is best for your team and act accordingly. It will make it a better experience for you and everyone who calls you “teammate.”