Deciding if You Should Change Teams
I had a talk yesterday with an athlete I'm working with, and he was asking me about changing clubs. He's not necessarily happy with the one he's currently playing for, and has been thinking about moving to another one.
But, as is true with most of us when trying to make such a big decision, he was having many doubts and was afraid of making the wrong choice.
We talked it through, laying out different scenarios, and ultimately came to a decision. As of now, I think he's going to change clubs.
That's not always the case, however. I've worked with players on deciding if they should change teams, and the decision has been made to stay where they are. It all depends on the athlete and what's truly best for them.
What I want to do with this article is walk you through the strategy I use whenever I'm helping an athlete make a decision about switching teams. That way, you can feel more confident in whatever decision you make.
Why Are You Wanting to Switch Teams in the First Place?
We'll get into the strategy in the next section, but what's an important step even before diving into the strategy, is thinking about why you want to change teams in the first place.
What's happened that has you considering this decision?
The reason this is an important first step is because you want to make sure the reason you want to leave will be resolved (or at least there will be the possibility of it being resolved) once you switch teams.
If not, so let's say there's something internal going on, then changing teams won't do much good.
For example, if the main reason you want to switch teams is because you're showing up each day with a lot of fear and anxiety about making mistakes and what your coach will think of you, that's not going to change much unless you do.
That's because fear and anxiety, while impacted by external factors, are internal challenges. Changing environments may provide some immediate relief, but the only lasting solution will come from within.
You may change teams, feel a bit better initially, but as soon as something happens all that fear and anxiety will come rushing back. Why? Because you didn't work to resolve the underlying problem.
On the other hand, let's say the reason you want to leave has to do with an unfair coach who plays favorites and isn't giving you a fair shot at getting more playing time.
Then you may want to change teams to get a better opportunity of actually playing. This challenge could be fixed by changing teams, because you can go to a club or organization where there's a better chance you'll play.
The bottom line is, you must get clear as to the main reason why you want to change teams.
Now, if it is more of an internal reason, that doesn't mean you still shouldn't change teams. A change in environments may help you overcome the underlying challenge faster.
But that's the thing, you must recognize that there is an underlying challenge (like fear or anxiety) that needs attention. If not, as I said earlier, it will only come rushing back again in the future.
Once you're clear on why you want to change teams, it's time to go through the strategy to help you make the best decision, and most importantly, feel confident about the choice you make.
Strategy to Help Decide if You Should Change Teams
A decision as big as changing teams requires careful consideration. But dwelling on a decision and going back and forth is never good for anyone. You want to be thoughtful, but decisive!
This strategy will help with just that. It provides you with the opportunity to think through your options, and feel confident you're making the best choice for you.
I wouldn't even say the right choice, because there isn't really a right or wrong choice when it comes to changing teams. All you can do is make the best decision you can, based on the thought you've put forth.
Step #1: Get Clear on Why You Want to Leave
What you must do first is get a clear idea as to why you want to change teams in the first place. Maybe this is blatantly obvious to you, and maybe it's not.
But remember earlier how I was saying that a lot of internal challenges like fear and anxiety won't necessarily be resolved if you change teams? You may feel a bit of a reprieve initially, but if the underlying cause isn't worked through, the challenge will just reappear in the future.
Now, if it is more of an internal challenge that's causing you to want to change teams, that doesn't mean you shouldn't change teams.
All it means is that you need to be aware of this and make sure you're putting in work to overcome the underlying challenge while changing teams.
On the other hand, if it is a negative coach, or a lack of playing time that is the reason you want to leave, that can make your decision much easier.
Step #2: Identify Your Large Goal
It's always great to set goals for yourself as an athlete. But what I mean by identifying your large goal, is that you need to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve in your sport.
Are you trying to make it onto a college team? Are you wanting to play professionally? Are you just trying to see how good you can get? Or are you simply out there to have as much fun as you possibly can?
Identifying this goal is an important step in deciding whether or not to change teams, because you want to make sure your decision aligns with your goal.
For example, if your goal is to have the most fun possible, it doesn't make sense to stay with a team where you feel miserable.
However, if you are dealing with a tough coach, let's say, but she's a strong leader and great at developing you, then you may want to push through if your goal is to reach the next level.
A third example is if your goal is to keep improving, yet you're not getting a lot of playing time. You may be on a great team, but lacking game time experience isn't helping you improve as much as you'd like.
It's important to clearly identify your long-term goal. After which, we can work on outlining the paths that will take you there.
Step #3: Laying Out the Paths
There isn't one path that will take you to your goals. You look at college and professional players and there are all sorts of different stories as to how they go to where they are. Everyone has their own path to take.
But it's easy to get caught up in what's the norm. The path everyone talks about and to you may seem like the only way for you to reach your goal.
If that's the case, yet you don't like the team you're on, it may feel like the decision you're forced to make is between sticking it out with a team you don't like or giving up on your goal.
That's absolutely not the case!
But to understand that, you must allow yourself to see all the possible paths.
So for step three, you want to outline all the ways you can reach your goal. Be creative. Do some research. Do not stick to what is the general narrative. Be open to paths unlooked for.
By laying out all the possible paths available to you, you can feel confident that the decision you make still gives you a good chance of reaching your goal.
Step #4: Deciding Which Path Gives You the Best Chance of Succeeding?
The last step is to look back over all your paths and decide which choice gives you the best chance of succeeding.
It may turn out that remaining with the team you're on gives you the best chance. Or you may find that moving down a level to get more playing time, for example, gives you the best chance of reaching your goal.
The bottom line is, you cannot control whether you reach your long-term goal or not. There are many external factors that play into that. But what you can control is doing all you can to put yourself in a position to succeed.
To make it to college, for example, you need to become the best player you can be. That means you need to be doing all you can to improve. Staying on a high level travel team, but sitting the bench, isn't going to give you the experience and exposure you need.
It may sound great to say you're on so and so team, but when you clearly think about your long-term goal, it's not giving you the best chance to succeed.
Then again, you may realize that even though your coach is a yeller and you don't like that, they're also a fantastic coach and push you every day. If you stick it out with them, you will develop into the player you want to become.
By clearly identifying your goal, then getting a good idea of all the paths available to you, you can make a decision based on which path provides you with the best chance of succeeding in the long run.
Being faced with the decision to change teams can be a tough one. Especially if you have friends on your current team, or you feel like you'll be judged for your decision.
But the truth is, it's your career. You need to make the decision that's best for you!
To help make such a big decision, you want to get clear on why you want to change teams in the first place. Then, outline your long-term goal as an athlete.
From there, lay out all the possible paths that will take you to your goal. And lastly, choose which path gives you the best chance of being successful. And that's the decision you should make.
By going through this process, you know that the decision you've made aligns with your goal, and puts you in the best possible position to have a successful career.
Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.
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