How to Be a Good Synchronized Swimming Teammate
Swimmers who believe in the team's goals above personal ambition are the key to unlocking a group's full potential. No matter how many grueling hours of training you put in or how fantastically talented you all are, without good teamwork the results will always be limited.
Being deemed a great teammate is one of the best compliments a synchro swimmer can possibly receive! Listed below are the traits that are most desired in a teammate. Make improving in these areas a priority.
1. Team First
The cliché saying goes: There is no I in team. While oft overused, it is one of the foundations of synchronized swimming. This can seem difficult sometimes; it's never easy to walk away from a battle of egos. When you feel the urge to be right, take a step back and try to look at the big picture. You might not “win every argument over which count is which or what the water levels are, but in the end it's really about the team's success as a whole.
Learn that you don't have to lose yourself in order to put the team first. Often, contributing your individual best can go a long way in highlighting the combination of skills on the whole team.
Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.
2. Be a Leader
There are lots of ways to be a leader on the team, and most of them don't involve telling other people what to do. Sometimes, one of the best ways to lead is simply by example. When everyone is trying to be the captain, it can become confusing and most likely time wasting.
Figure out what your most complimentary role for the team would be, whether that role is as team captain, or merely a member who enthusiastically carries out direction. Being a reliable and contributing teammate is another way to lead by example.
3. Be Reliable
In just about every situation, there are a few important ways to show your team that they can count on you.
Be on time to practice, and don't take missing a practice lightly. It's hard to practice things like patterns, synchronization, and lifts without a full crew.
Be prepared in every way. Bring everything you need, equipment wise, to practice. Your teammates will be generous in lending you items, but their patience will run thin if this happens every other day. Also, show your preparedness by knowing the routine well, especially when there are a lot of choreography changes to keep up with.
Although just about every swimmer would rather be on the team than the alternate, it's really a very admirable position to hold. You get the chance to be the most reliable swimmer because you are required to learn every position in the routine in case someone misses practice, gets sick, or injured.
4. Step Up to the Plate
At most practice sessions, teammates will fall into their regular roles. However, not every day will be the same. What if the team captain is sick that day? Or maybe the teammate who is usually very encouraging is having a bad day? That's when a good teammate will step up to fill in where other can't. It's important to balance the team dynamics by being flexible and willing to contribute as needed.
Another way to help out the team is by keeping your awareness up in situations where your help could be needed. When you see a teammate struggling with a skill or move, offer to help immediately if the timing is appropriate. If the time's not right, consult them before or after practice. Always remember that when you're offering constructive criticism to a teammate (especially when they might already be frustrated) should be delivered with kindness and patience. Also, during competitions, teammates can be especially helpful in everything from pinning on a headpiece, to sharing a few encouraging words just before performing.
5. Learn from Others
Instead of feeling unlucky for not having been blessed with the same skills as some of your other teammates (or worse yet, feeling like you've got nothing to admire in any of your teammates), look for what you can learn from everyone.
No one is naturally endowed with every skill a synchro swimmer could need. Whether you're at the top of the team, or struggling everyday to keep your spot, look for the traits your teammates have that are areas you could improve on. With the combination of everyone's skills, the team will be stronger all around.
All for One and One for All
The team aspect of synchronized swimming can be one of the most rewarding and fun parts of the sport. You get to do the sport you love, and work for success with your friends. Working on being a good teammate will not only make your team more successful, but it will make your experience in this team sport a lot of fun!