This post is for those of you that have never been overseas before. This is some information that you HAVE to know and understand before getting on the plane to cross the water or leaving your homeland.
Once you get off that plane, you have to literally be ready to perform. You may think I am joking but I mean exactly that. As soon as you make your first contact with whoever from the team is picking you up, you will be under observation. Chances are, you are not the first foreign player that has been there, and you most certainly will not be the last so your first impression will be critical. You know what they say, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”
I know you may be tired from the trip, but there are two things you have to do when you get to your destination… by this I mean the first days and all the new people you will meet in the organization.
- Be open, friendly, and smile a lot
- Ask questions
A smile will open doors and break down barriers…even ones of language. Even if you are not able to communicate with words, people gravitate to other people that smile.
Be curious about your new surroundings, your new team, and the country in general. Your showing interest by asking questions will add to your likeability. You will make those you speak with get into conversations with you that they probably didn’t have with other foreign players that just looked to play ball and collect a check.
Another reason you might have to be ready to perform right away is the fact that you might have to play or practice right away. Especially if you come to a team late, you will have no time to get yourself acclimated to the time zone, climate, or whatever. If you land at 9 am, you may have to be on the court in the afternoon.
I have known some players that went straight to the gym to practice after getting off the plane. No hotel stop, no food stop, no sightseeing…straight to practice! I, myself, flew from Austria to England once and played a friendly game hours after I arrived. I might not have needed to fly 6 hours, but getting off the plane after 2 and a half hours, driving over 2 hours to my city, and then driving an hour to another city to play is not too dope.
I was expected to play with a team I had never practiced with, all while knowing the eyes of the GM, the coach, and even my new teammates would be on me thinking the same thing…”Is he worth it?” Yes, I was by the way haha.
The point is, you may have to perform at the drop of a hat with high expectations. You have to find a way to blend out any negative thoughts of tiredness, homesickness, or anything else, to do your job…and do it well. You have to prove you are worth it.
Be ready, or you might find yourself back at the airport sooner than expected!