Be Prepared When You Go in For a Starter 

Be Prepared When You Go in For a Starter

Ever Been on a Team That Lost its Star Player?

Imagine how hard it was for the athlete who needed to fill in for that player.

Whether it is for a game or the season, filling in for the top player on your team is a formidable task.

Players rely heavily on their star teammates. They look to those elite players for leadership and often defer to them late in games. Sometimes, star players are viewed as irreplaceable.

When you are the one who competes in a star player’s absence, high expectations and pressure can weigh you down. 

You believe you need to BE the player you are replacing. You feel your teammates are relying on you to lead and carry the team on your back.

When you try to be someone you are not, you are more likely to make uncharacteristic mistakes at critical moments in competitions.

However, you are on the team for a reason, and that is because of your skill set. You have to focus on being yourself. It is crucial for you to know your role and how you will approach performing that role to the best of your abilities.

The New York Jets selected quarterback Zach Wilson, who found himself having to substitute for one of the best players in the league, not an easy task for a player who under performed in his first two years in the NFL. 

Wilson, the second overall pick in 2021, completed only 55 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns to 18 interceptions in his two years as a starter.

Due to Wilson’s lack of production, the Jets traded for four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers to lead the team to a potential Super Bowl. After Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon in the first game of the season, Wilson returned to being the starter.

Though Wilson is aware of the high expectations, he has simplified his approach to the game.

WILSON: “I think it’s going out there, taking it one play at a time, trusting in my footwork, trusting in what the coaches have been talking about, and we’ll go from there.”

Wilson also understands that he will make some mistakes like every athlete, but poise and refocusing will be the keys to managing pressure in the spotlight.

WILSON: “You have to be able to say, ‘OK, I made a mistake, now what?’ I have to move on, and the team’s relying on me to do my part. For me, I know what I’m capable of, and I feel like I have the belief of the guys in this locker room, so how can we go out there every single day and piece it together one by one?”

To be your best, ask yourself, “What do I bring to the table?” “What can I do to help my team be successful?” Focusing on your game will help you lessen the weight of expectations and pressure.

Knowing who you are as an athlete is crucial when substituting for a star teammate. 

When competing, you should not think about trying to be the athlete you are replacing. You must play to YOUR strengths to be on top of YOUR game.

Always practice like a starter so when you get your chance you’ll be ready to take over.

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