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Athlete Blog

Building better team chemistry

October 6, 2016


As you walk off the field after a long and arduous practice, you watch your interpreter leave and then realize that the team is having a dinner at Salsarita’s. You want to be a pivotal part of the team off the field, being a good teammate and leader of the program. How do you build better team chemistry when there aren’t any access services?

One at a time.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people normally struggle in large group conversations. It’s very tough for deaf and hard-of-hearing people to track the conversation that’s going back and forth in all directions. When I was a student-athlete, I would find time to sit down with one or two of my teammates at a time. For example, I would get one or two guys to join me for a meal after practice or a workout. This way I could spend more time getting to know my teammates instead of trying to chase the conversation and figuring out what they’re talking about. If you’re still stuck in a group conversation, pick one or two teammates to talk with. As the conversation goes on, you’ll be able to figure out what others are talking about.

Control the conversation.

I find it very easy to follow everyone’s comments and thoughts when I’m the one who initiates the conversation. I try to start the conversation with a little something, like the classic “how’s your arm feeling?” or “my legs are killing me” then see what your mates say, and build off of that. I personally don’t mind when someone comes up to me and starts a conversation, but it might take one or two repeats for me to understand the context of the conversation. When you initiate something, you control what’s happening, and it’s harder to have miscommunication.

Find a few teammates who are cool with repeating themselves.

From time to time, I enjoy trying to figure out what my teammates are talking about on the bus. This oftentimes take place when I rise out of my deep slumber on my trusty neck pillow. I’m trying to get back up to speed with what’s going on. I always have two or three teammates who I know will be cool with repeating what’s happening. I’d just ask what’s up, and he would fill me in with the main highlights then I’d go about my own business…or get involved. As the season goes on, you’ll be spending more time with your teammates, which means you’ll find out who’s more comfortable with who. You’ll be able to figure out who you click better with, and who you think can fill you in every once in a while.

Use technology!

In this society, technology is booming. So…you may as well take advantage of it! I use many different ways to chat with my teammates, ranging from texting, snapchatting, FaceTiming, and Facebook. In my senior year, the baseball team set up a group chat, and it was hilarious. The best part was that I was never out of the loop. I was able to keep up with them. Not only that, I could text my mates individually at any given day and just strike up a conversation with them. This allowed me to build relationships with my teammates, and I was able to become a better teammate because of it.

Thank you for your time!

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