How to Stay Included in Extreme Sports as a Disabled Athlete
There are disabled sports that you can engage in if you have a love of athletics and extreme sports and struggle with a disability. You also must be given the same opportunities as others interested in your program. From our school years, we are taught that those with disabilities must be accommodated by athletic teams. This is outlined by Michael L. Williams on the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) website.
However, despite required inclusion, the going can be tough. Fitting in with team members who do not face a disability can be difficult and frustrating. Many students and athletes that do face impairments are eventually discouraged from joining teams for fear of not being included.
Here are some unique and effective ways to ensure that you are not only included in disabled sports, but the extreme sports you’re interested in, and are respected and admired by your teammates.
Outside of required practice sessions, you should take the time to train with your team members. This will help them understand what you struggle with on a daily basis, in addition to helping you understand how they function as a team. Not being afraid to spend extra time with your peers can help you feel significantly more comfortable in action. It can also help improve your performance as a team.
You don’t necessarily need to train with your entire team outside of normal practice sessions. You can also choose two or three teammates with whom you are most comfortable. From there, your confidence will grow.
Communication is key. We’ve been taught this lesson since preschool, and, yet, many of us have not mastered it. Effective team communication skills can make or break a team altogether (both in business and in athletics). LiveStrong recently published a particularly useful article about this phenomenon.
Whenever you have feelings of resentment, anger, or frustration relating to your extreme sport, you need to share these emotions with your teammates. If you can’t trust your team, you can’t hope to perform with them either.
Before choosing a specific team, sport, or coach to associate yourself with, explore your options. Are you interested in multiple sports? What teams are established in your area? What kind of coaches are available and what are their respective personalities? Before making a solid decision about your future, make sure you choose the right team in which to invest yourself and your time.
Many communities offer a variety of resources for disabled athletes. You can explore training programs, coaching sessions, lectures, seminars, and camps that will help you prepare for extreme sports. The more resources you utilize, the more comfortable you’ll feel when the time comes to join a team. Don’t forget - you can continue to use these resources, even after you begin training with teammates.
Because it can be physically and emotionally draining to be a disabled athlete, take the time to keep a journal. In this journal, you can record your feelings, thoughts, and observations. This will also give you a chance to collect your emotions at the end of the day - better preparing you for your next training session with the team. You can learn more about keeping a journal through Writing Athletes.
Joining a new athletic team can be scary and stressful. Doing so with a disability can be taxing. However, it can also be a rewarding and empowering experience that has the potential to change your lifestyle and perspective. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to change the perspective of others.
Follow these tips and, most importantly, enjoy yourself. Disabled Sports USA has some other great resources for you. Athletics are about personal growth and adventure. Don’t forget to enjoy the process.