Welcoming New Teammates
Roger has been on the same basketball team for five years. In that time, he has made several friends and has even attended the same school as most of his teammates. Roger’s comfortable situation is about to change. His father’s promotion at work requires the family to move to another city. Amongst other things, a family’s relocation has immediate impact on a child’s athletic life.
Relocating brings about sudden changes in a child’s life. A new neighborhood, a new school, and a new sports team are just few of the changes coming to mind. It is natural to check out the schools and neighborhoods before moving, but for parents with children in sports activities it is just as important to do the homework on the athletic organizations of their new surroundings. While the web is a wonderful starting point in gathering information about teams, leagues and competitiveness; parents should also make direct contact to gather the necessary information. When speaking with an official of a prospective athletic organization, ask for a contact list of other parents or coaches on the team.
Parents: do not hold back on the questions.
Ask specific questions about coaching expectations, any past conflicts or incidences which have occurred and the overall goal for the players of the team. Is the organization built on winning games or developing individuals through athletics. Ask what each person likes best about the organization and the overall experience for the children. Don’t stop there. Ask the real estate agent if there is a personal connection with the organization, and if they can set up a short question and answer period over the phone. All of this assists parents in making the proper decision.
The ‘New Kid’
When a youth player like Roger joins a new team, there will be a short awkward period for the new player as well as the ‘new’ coach and ‘new’ teammates. Coaches must take the first step by properly introducing the player to teammates. The coach could also take it one step further and meet with the new parents one-on-one prior to the first practice. A natural next step is for the coach to introduce the ‘new’ parents to the parents of the other players. These easy guidelines will get rid of the awkwardness much quicker.
Coaches and parents should encourage the players to actively involve the ‘new’ player. Kids tend to do this anyway, but there are ways to expedite the process. Take the first 15 minutes of practice for every player to introduce themselves. Adding a simple ‘elevator speech,’ having the current players talk about what they like to do or what they like most about the team or sport can bring a sense of comfort to incoming new players.
For the new player ‘in town’, the biggest advice is to “Be Yourself.” Do not try to come in as a know-it-all or as someone determined to ‘beat out’ the star player. Listen to the coaches, participate in drills, and interact with teammates in a positive manner. It will not be long until new friendships are developing and the ‘new’ team aura disappears. That’s when the sports activity gets the desired results – to compete and enjoy what you’re doing.