I looked across the floor and saw a familiar sight: Twelve young women were standing together watching their competition and listening to the roar of the crowd.
Their faces had begun the transition to realized defeat. It was the same pattern I had observed over years and years of competitions at the Huntsman Center at the University of Utah. I am a witness to the power of Home Team Advantage.
U of U gymnastics is steeped in a tradition of excellence and winning. Perhaps their greatest accomplishment has been the team’s ability to create the best home competition advantage in all of college sports. I’m not claiming to understand every aspect of how they’ve accomplished this, but I’ve observed some important things that you and I can use to build our own home team advantage.
First, the expectation has always been focused on having each athlete do their best and give it their all. While some may believe this to be the same as a focus on winning, it is not. It may result in winning, but no one wins each and every time. And, here is the real lesson, even when they lose, Utah gymnasts have given it their all, done their best, on that particular day. Then they move forward and work to do their best the next time.
Second, while it may appear the competitive routine each gymnast does is easy, it is not. Utah gymnasts have learned that sometimes, even when they have done their best, it isn’t enough. Such times can be disheartening, but they don’t let it stop them from working to become better than they are at that moment. They work through personal struggles until they become the master of what challenged them.
Third, members of the team support each other all of the time. When one of them succeeds, they run to congratulate her. When one fails, they run to console and lift her. They live, compete, sleep, study, train, lose and win together.
Fourth, they have created an atmosphere of having fun. It shows in the way they move and interact with each other and their fans. One fan once told me, “They have created such a great and fun atmosphere at their meets that we never, ever miss one!”
Fifth, the team continually tells their fans that they are a difference maker; the team never takes their fans for granted. In short, they’ve asked their fans to take an active part in their meets and victories. And, they do!
The last meet with UCLA is the perfect example. It was tight, right from the completion of the first rotation. As the competition went on, the crowd vocally participated more and more, until finally, I turned to someone sitting next to me and said, “This crowd is willing Utah to victory! They will not let our team lose!”
The fans wille and cheered their team to personal best scores and another victory over UCLA. That’s exactly what I mean by home team advantage.
You and I can have the same advantage in our own lives as well. We can create it by following the same steps: Focus on helping the people in your life to do their best, to give it their all; congratulate others when they succeed and encourage when they struggle; and live your life with the people you want on your team. Eat, study, exercise, lose and win together.
Also, have fun together so your team will want to be with you all of the time. Finally, tell your team how important they are to you and how much you need their support.
You and I may never win any great awards or accolades for doing these things, but one thing is certain: Creating our own home team advantage will allow you and me to do our personal best and have sweet victories in our lives.
Lynn Butterfield lives in Erda and is a managing broker for a real estate company.