Get to Know Your Teammates and Athletes I am finally back from Kitchener, Ontario where I was helping the Canadian athletesprepare for the Olympic Games. All the teams that were at the Tri-Nations Cup (Japan, Australia,and Canada) are now in Vancouver for the Canada Cup. So, I flew back yesterday (and about500 emails waiting to be read). As I arrived, the first thing I did was to head to my moms to getmy two cats (two 18-month-old females). You see, since i was gone 10 days, I thought it wouldbe a better thing to have them stay with my mom for that period of time. The other option was toleave them at my place with my mom visiting every few days to check on them. I opted for thefirst option of leaving them at her place. That was the wrong decision. My two cats spent theentire 10 days hidden in the basement and were unfindable. My mom looked for them repeatedlybut couldnt find them (her basement is the best place for cats to play hide and seek). The otherreason why they probably wanted to stay hidden was that my mom has a dog even though thedog didnt really care about them and wasnt into chasing them at all. She knew they were therebecause they ate the food and used the litter. I arrived yesterday and I couldnt find them either.So, after 3 hours looking for them, I left without them to go back to my place because I wasreally tired (read me tomorrow to know more about sleep). I was really sad since I missed them.We agreed that whenever one of them would come out, she would lock her in the bathroom forme to come back and get her. Thats what happened later. She found Tornado, one my two cats in the basementsbathroom. So, last night, I went back to my moms and recovered her. She meowed the wholetime back while in her cage. Since she got back to my place, she hasnt stopped following mearound and looking for affection. Every 5 minutes, she comes over. She was affection-deprivedbig time. However, we are still missing the other one… Bottom line is… I have learned mylesson and will not do that again in the future. I had the best intentions but it turned out, thatwasnt the best solution for them. They would rather be left alone at home in an environmentthey know with someone visiting once in a while to check on them and make sure they have foodand water left. How does this relate to softball? You see, each athlete is different and as teammates andcoaches, we must learn to know each of them. Nobody reacts the same way to the same thing.Frictions and conflicts often arise from misunderstandings of each other in emotionally-drivencircumstances. Figuring out someone is no easy task but it is an important part of being ateammate and a coach. Knowing how someone reacts in a given situation or context will helpthe team function better and help that given athlete perform better. Thats why team-buildingexercises held outside of softball contexts (games, practices, etc.) where you get to learnmore about your teammates/athletes are very powerful. The best coaches are the ones that adaptsto each and every one of their athlete and the best team captains are the ones who know how tohandle each and every one of their teammates. Get to know everybody on your team and howthey react in any given situation.