No ‘I’ in Team: Students Weigh the Difference Between Individual and Team Sporting Events

Josh Hartman & Sam Sublette | Reporters

Focus. Concentration. Preparedness. Three key traits for any tennis player, singles or doubles. As someone who plays on both sides of this, sophomore Sean Nograles is ready to go before every match whether he has a partner or is all on his own.

tennis balls“Singles players usually work on their groundstrokes and approach shots while doubles players work more on serves and net game,” Nograles said.

Nograles said the pressure of knowing you’re all on your own in a singles match can be tough but also reassuring, knowing the outcome of your match is all up to you.

“You’re in control of what you do, and you don’t have to rely on someone else to play well. If you’re a player who likes to play accurate and close to the lines, then singles is good for you,” Nograles said.

Whether it is physically or mentally, you must prepare differently when going into a doubles match with a partner versus playing a singles match.

“Doubles is completely different because the court is wider, allowing for more crosscourt points to be won. If you’re a player with good volleys and overheads, you can excel in doubles,” Nograles said. “[But], no matter how well you play by yourself, your partner also needs to play well.”

As the event is about to start, a perfect race is visualized in his head. He focuses on all the right things he can do in the race and uses that energy to prepare himself. This is the mentality of an individual team athlete, senior Mark Santiago, during a swim meet.

However, the mentality is not just based upon the individual, but also the teammates
around an athlete.

“Before [a] race, [my teammates] tell me good luck and swim fast,” said Santiago. “After the race, I have people to talk [to] and they can relate to the pain of swimming.”

gogglesSantiago’s greatest hurdle as an individual athlete is waiting for his results and performance to be revealed.

“I think the most difficult part is fearing the results. I mean, you’re putting in so many hours of effort, and if you don’t get the results you want, it’s heartbreaking, but you’ll bounce back,” said Santiago.

While swimming is seen as an individual sport, it carries qualities that a team sport may have.

“Swimming is kind of an individual sport where you keep yourself accountable for doing the work and putting in the time and effort,” Santiago said. “There’s an aspect where it’s [also] a team sport where you have people to swim and workout with you and it makes it so much better.”

As a team sport athlete, mental preparation is an important aspect for an athlete before a game. Knowing where you need to be and when to help your team win is key to being victorious.

Nobody knows this better than the junior, two-sport athlete Sam Miller who’s on both the football and soccer team.

“We mix seriousness with fun,” Miller said. “Our warmup gets everyone loose, and we all listen to music and get hype together.”

Team sports are about the people next to you and making sure you all succeed together for an ultimate goal.

shoe“My teammates mean a lot to me,” Miller said. “You spend so much time together between practice, games, and bus rides that it’s like having a second family during the season.”

Miller values having people by her side throughout the entire season to help her and motivate her.

“We push each other to get better, run faster, [and] lift more,” Miller said.

Every year, seniors leave and freshmen join, forcing the team’s bond to be that much closer.

“The younger players get pushed by the upperclassmen, and the upperclassmen even get motivated by the younger players,” Miller said. “Surrounding yourself with good players only makes you better. We all want to set a positive example for each other and prove to one another that we deserve to be a part of the team.”

Graphics by Morgan Jones.

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