f Six Hundred & Seventy Five; 9 things I have learned from team sports.


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Six Hundred & Seventy Five; 9 things I have learned from team sports.

November 8, 2014 / ,

9 things that I have learned from team sports

In particular, what I have learned from netball.
For a start, I was a netball player for 12 years.
I fell in love with the game ever since I was introduced to it in Primary 4,
started playing it on a competitive level since secondary school,
continued in Junior College 
and also played for my netball club (Llabten) outside school.
I have blogged a real long entry about my netball life before,
you may read about it here: 

I have stopped playing competitive netball for around 3 years.
I may have forgotten when was the last competition I took part in,
but I will never forget those long-lasting memories created.

Netball was an integral part of my life.
I think I was lucky to develop my passion for it at an early age,
and to have it lasted for more than a decade..
The close bonds that I have with my best friends,
were forged on the netball court.
Besides truly enjoying the adrenaline coursing through my veins,
I love that feeling of fighting hard as a team.
Netball has taught me a plethora of things.
On a side note, other than netball, 
I used to play basketball and volleyball leisurely as well.
Generally, I just really enjoy team sports alot.

9 things that I have learned from team sports

1. Teamwork
Netball is the epitome of a team sport (to me).
No matter how many talented players there are in a team,
the team can never be successful without teamwork. 
Over the years, 
I have learned the importance of cooperation 
with so many different teammates from various backgrounds.
It is about utilising each player's potential,
and having everyone unite together to work on the team's tactic.
The team only truly wins, when everyone strives hard together towards a common goal.
That satisfaction derived from an excellent team play, is beyond words.

The realisation of how valuable and essential teamwork is,
has helped me greatly in school and at work. 

2. Building camaraderie
That camaraderie built by spending so much time together, 
is probably my most valuable takeaway from playing a team sport.
The friendships forged were results of the joy, sweat and tears we shed,
from enduring through the tough trainings together and
fighting hard alongside each other during competitions.
My best friend of 12 years (& still counting!), whom I met from netball,
was my team mate during my secondary school and JC days,
and we also played for the same club.
She is the very same person who went through the different stages of my life,
and has always been here for me through thick and thin.
Interestingly, she has brought her passion for team sports to a higher level,
by starting Player Events,
which has a niche in corporate team building and specialises in running team sports events. 

3. Time Management, Commitment & Sacrifice
I devoted a lot of time to netball,
which meant that I was forced to learn how to manage my time well since young, 
so that I would not neglect my studies and family.
During my 'O' level and 'A' level years,
I spent the first half of the year focusing on netball,
and the next half of the year on my studies.
It taught me to prioritise.
I forced myself to focus during lessons,
so that after school, I could focus fully on my trainings.
And then after trainings, I would force myself to finish up my tutorials/homework.
(uhm.. most of the times. Well, sacrifices had to be made sometimes right....? :D)
The next day, the whole cycle continued.
It was tiring as hell!
But it made me realise how important it is to stay focused on the right thing at the right time,
in order to excel in both things.
I also had to sacrifice the time spent with other friends outside netball,
while my teammates and I had to see each other soooo often.
I was used to training 5-6 days a week;
it was a commitment which I willingly made.

Netball has taught me how to put my mind, heart and soul 
into what I truly enjoy and love.

4. Leadership/Team Player
I was appointed the vice-captain during my secondary days.
While I learned a lot as a leader,
I also realised that I preferred to be a team player more than a leader,
because I am more people-oriented than task-oriented most of the times.
That was one new thing I learned about myself through the course of leadership.
Not everyone can be a leader, it is true.
But I also learned that a leader should be an effective team player at the same time.
A successful leader guides the team, not just 'rule' the team.
Since I had my fair share of being a leader and also a team player led by different leaders,
I learned how to react/deal with different types of players and leaders.
This is a social skill that is so applicable even til date.

5. Mental preparation is as important as physical preparation
Those training sessions with the never-ending suicide runs and circuits under the gruelling sun,
to build our stamina, speed, strength and agility, are not sufficient.
Physical endurance and skills are essential,
but it is never complete without mental strength.
Those team talks that we had after trainings and before the games,
those heart-to-heart-talks,
those cheesy but useful motivational quotes that we told each other..
they were important.
There were times when we knew that the opponent had a better track record than us,
but we still won them eventually because we were mentally strong enough,
and that mental strength brought us the sweet victory despite the physical disadvantage.
At the same time, there were times when we were overconfident and complacent,
and we lost the games. 
Who did we lose to? Ourselves.

6. Confidence
Confidence, is one key aspect of mental preparation.
I am a self-critical person, 
and I always cripple my confidence due to that.
On days when I doubted my capabilities,
the slightest mistake that I made on court would demoralise me greatly
and thus affected my subsequent performance.
Truth be told, there were more of such days than my confident days.
When you have low confidence in yourself and/or your team, 
you already lost half the battle,
I knew..
Well, I experienced how the lack of confidence can really one's performance,
and looking back, I wished I was more confident in myself back then.
I guess I learned this the hard way.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." 
-- Eleanor Roosevelt 

One of the quotes that I hold close to my heart now, to constantly remind myself.

7. Perseverance & Determination
I learned to persevere even in the midst of doubt,
& to never give up even when there was no reason to believe that
we would win our opponent team with everyone who is one head taller.
So what if the other team had a better track record?
Records are meant to be broken!
No matter how the opponent is supposedly stronger,
it is important to persevere.
Keep that hunger for all the loose balls & rebounds of the missed shots,
and the determination to outwit the defenders and trick them with smart moves..
That never-give-up spirit til the last whistle is blown.
That determination to give our very best and to persevere til the end,
and thus the victory.
I looooveeeee that feeling each time my team won a 'supposedly stronger' team.

8. Picking yourself up after a fall
I had friends who suffered from old injuries,
and ACL tear seemed to be a common threat to many.
I guess I was lucky because I only had ankle sprains and some minor injuries. 

The road to recovery is never easy.
Times when you almost reached your peak,
but your injury brought you down and forced you to rest.. 
& when you tried to pick yourself up again,
it just aint the same anymore.
Ever since I injured the same ankle twice,
I developed the fear of challenging for the balls,
and I became less agressive because I was afraid of contact with my opponent,
which might cause me to injure the same ankle for the third time.
It took me quite a while to get over it,
and I still have that bit of phobia in me, but I got better in time.
I guess it was truly about how we picked ourselves up from the bad fall,
and continued the journey.
Times when you were in pain,
but you endured through it just so that you could remain on court to 
fight hard together with your teammates..
Times when you used a lot of tape to secure your knee/ankle/wrist on top of the guards,
because you knew that nothing is gonna stop you from playing the game.

My bestie had an ACL operation,
and it took her about a year to recover from it.
That one year of recovery, was definitely a painful one, both mentally and physically. 
I asked her what she learned from this injury, and she said,
'Learned that sometimes we take our basic mobility to walk and run for granted. 
Being able to play sports is a privilege. Learned to toughen up in spite of a fall.
To be strong yet embrace vulnerability.
And to overcome.'
Her exact words. :)
Today, not only does she run Player Events,
she is also a certified netball coach and motivational coach. :')

9. Accepting victory AND defeat
Netball has made me competitive, I do not deny.
I have always found it hard to accept this statement,
'It's not the journey, not the destination.'
When I enter a battle, do I not fight to win??
Especially at that very moment when I am in the game, 
all I wanted to see, was result. 
'I want to win, I freaking want that trophy/medal!
Do not tell me about the journey blahblahblah.
All I know is, all those trainings and sacrifices would be useless if we do not win this.
Could not help but to have those thoughts.

However, as much as we all love the taste of sweet victory,
truth is, there are bound to be failures at some parts of our lives.
While I am still learning to fully accept that statement on how journey matters > destination,
I do agree that it is more important that we bring out the best in us each time,
and learn the lessons along the way.
No matter the outcome, accept it.
Even if it was a defeat, we must leave the court with our heads held high.
It is important to leave the court with no regrets.
I learned to accept defeat.
I learned that from each defeat, I should know my mistakes and 
the main objective is to not repeat the mistakes.
Same goes to life.

During my secondary school days, 
we only went as far as 'Top 8' for our zonal competitions;
and during my JC days, we almost attained our dream of getting into Top 4,
but only went as far as top 6 eventually.
I may not have achieved much in terms of results,
but I have gained so much from this sport that I loved.

Netball has shaped my life.
The ups and downs I experienced from this team sport,
has made me grow (I literally grew 20cm in my secondary days) 
and made me a stronger person for sure.
Staying committed to a team sport for 12 years,
was one of the best decisions I have made for sure.
& honestly, I genuinely hope that my future kids 
will enjoy team sports as much as I do,
because I am certain that they will learn a lot of valuable life-lessons, 
just like how I did. 
Sports memories are forever. :)

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