So you want to join a tri team.
The first thing to ask yourself is: WHY?!
What is it about a team that piques your interest? Narrowing that list down will help you decide to which teams to apply.
Let’s talk about some aspects of teams.
1. Support Wants. Do you want a group that you can ride with every Sunday, or just a solid online chatroom to bounce ideas back and forth? If local support is important, you may want to search for regional triathlon clubs. If it’s not, you’re looking at more options. Continue on.
2. Experienced or Newbie? Local clubs are great for newbies that are wanting lots of support and advice. You’ll learn about local races, have an automatic group of training buddies, and have people with all kinds of racing and training experience. Most local clubs meet at least once a week for each discipline and will have fellow newbs as well as veterans to pick brains and share tips and tricks.
3. Perks Offered. The bigger or more known the team, the better your chances are to get some killer perks. That doesn’t mean that local clubs won’t offer some great deals as well! Perk may include, but are not limited to:
Big discounts with companies like Roka, Blue Seventy, Tri Tats, and the million others.
If the team is a brand’s team specifically, expect awesome freebees or absurd discounts.
Early registration to races (like IMAZ, Vineman, Chattanooga, etc.) will guarantee you a spot in a coveted race.
Organized group rides/runs/OWS if you’re local.
Discounts for local races and, often, bike shops, if you’re with a local tri team/club.
A group of people to connect with for travelling, especially when it comes to group rates or splitting hotel and car rental costs at fit-cations.
4. Join or Apply? Don’t like the idea of getting rejected? Then you may steer clear of teams that require applications, more common in ranked, national, or brand-specific teams. That will most likely cut you down to local clubs only, however.
5. Cost of Joining. Many teams are “buy-in” which means you will be paying upfront to join. You’ll still have to apply and get accepted, but this cost can run from $0 to around $400. This often is the team covering the cost of your triathlon kit. Some teams may also have a monthly charge if they are in the coaching business that you may or may not be required to pay. If it’s a local club, then it may be free to join, but ask for you to buy their kit. Rule of thumb is that local is free or cheap (relatively) while national/global can be pricy. That Is NOT always the case, however, but you may not find out the fee until after you've been accepted.
6. Kit Restrictions. Do you love the kit you’re currently racing in? If so, read the fine print carefully. If you join a team, you most likely will be required by contract to race solely in your team’s kit. This shouldn’t be a big deal, as they normally are kickass! But it’s still worth noting in case you don’t want to budge on that. This will be less likely if you choose a local tri “club” over a “team”.
7. Social Media Expectations. The more social media outlets and followers you have, the better you look to the eyes of a team. It does a team no good to have a bunch of members crushing races, if they aren’t on social media to tell people about it! If a team to which you’re applying has sponsors, expect some expectations about how often you post on social media regarding said sponsors. Usually it ranges from once to twice per month, so it’s rarely anything outrageous; but if you’re not all about that SM then it could feel like a burden.
What have I done previously? I love supporting my local running shop and tri shop.
Me taking 3rd AG at New Orleans Olympic Tri. Wearing a Phat Girlz kit and GCCT visor, as my Moxie kit hadn't arrived yet. ------------->
When I was in Pensacola, this meant I bought from and supported Running Wild and Gulf Coast Cycle and Tri. I still was part of a (kickbutt) global triathlon team for 2015 and 2016, Moxie Multisport; so I rocked that gear at races mostly; but I did my best to find the club locals to train with.
Don’t feel like you can’t check the local clubs for training buddies; but know that you won’t be able to join in on their scheduled group workouts if you aren’t part of them. You MAY be able to join their club so that you can join in, but still be on a national/global team. Just be sure that requirements don’t overlap.
Whether you choose to join a local club, brand-specific team, or elite team, know what you're getting yourself into, and train on!