An introvert is defined as someone who is shy or reserved. Most people will read that and believe that statement to be 100 percent accurate. However, there is so much more to being an introvert than what any entry in the dictionary may give you.
With being an introvert myself, I can honestly say I did not know the true meaning of it until a few years ago. Once I finally understood what an introvert really was, I was amazed how one word could describe me so perfectly.
Some ways introverts interact differently include: they withdraw from crowds, small talk stresses them out because they thrive on intellectual conversations, they tend to succeed in stressful situations because they prepare extensively, they think before they speak, they are not rewarded from external factors, they enjoy time alone because they need space to re-energize, they are more social around those they are comfortable with, and they are more reserved amongst those they are unfamiliar with.
By knowing the way introverts interact, you can understand why they might struggle to fit in with a team at times. As a coach (or any leader really) it's important to recognize if you have introverts on your team so that you can properly engage these individuals while also playing to their strengths.
Here are three pieces of advice to keep in mind if you have introverts on your team:
1. Create activities in practice that pair players in small groups
Introverts may at first feel like they do not belong with the team because of their tendency to shy away from unfamiliar situations and large groups of people. My recommendation is to create activities in practices that pair shyer players with more extroverted ones. In this way introverts can slowly get to know other members of the team without being put on the spot. By doing this,, team chemistry will slowly strengthen until the introverts on the team feel comfortable with each and every member.
2. Organize Team Building Activities Away From the Field
At times introverts may come across as arrogant and conceited due their uneasiness around the entire team. Be sure to take time to organize activities that may not trigger game day stresses and that take place away from the gym or the field. This will help introverts become more familiar with their teammates.
3. Prepare Extensively To Build Trust
Prepare introverts to succeed so they build trust in themselves and their teammates. Learn where they are most comfortable on the field and help them develop those skills so they become the go-to resource for other teammates.