Weekend Herald

Bring us food and save the game review — how to be the best HAB

Magic shooter and former Australia netball captain Caitlin Bassett reveals everything you need to know about dating a profession­al athlete


The fame, the money, the muscles. Being with a profession­al athlete must look very glamorous from the outside — but what is the reality of life with a sporting superstar?

For this topic, there is no better resource than my teammates, and after some hilarious conversati­ons, I have narrowed down what you need to know about dating an athlete.

Firstly, while male athletes have WAGs (wives and girlfriend­s), female athletes have HABs (husbands and boyfriends). It’s well known that being a WAG comes with perks — fivestar vacations, lavish houses and cars, to name just a few. Being a HAB comes with perks, too — free tickets to games and merchandis­e (if you can fit into a woman’s XL top).

The first key to surviving as the partner of a sports star is to understand that food is an important part of our lives. With very high training loads, staying fuelled is a priority, so when we say we’re on a diet, it doesn’t mean we’re eating salad and skipping meals.

When we’re not training, we’re usually eating, and even with food in hand, we’re generally thinking about our next meal. Keeping an athlete happy is simple — always have food on hand and don’t judge us on the ridiculous amounts we eat.

Bonus brownie points if you know your way around the kitchen and can whip up a good, healthy, homecooked meal. In fact, one of my teammates gets greeted by her partner holding food outstretch­ed after a loss. The food has to be finished before talking about the game is allowed to start.

Being an athlete often means enduring a rollercoas­ter of emotions, from the highs of a win to the lows of a loss. If you want to stay in the good books, don’t try to offer feedback straight after a game.

Mood swings are common, so telling us how we could have played better will never end well. Although we make things look easy out there on the field/court/pitch, it’s not — don’t tell us how to do our job and we won’t tell you how to do yours.

Give us some space and lend a supportive ear while we rant about an opposing player. And don’t worry — we generally calm down after a snack or nap.

Athletes are often time-poor, having to juggle training, games, family, friends and work or study. Being born in May meant I spent my 18th and 21st birthdays at training camps at the Australian Institute of Sport and every birthday since playing an away game.

It may be hard at times to understand that sport is our top priority, but with such a small window of opportunit­y to perform at elite level, activities such as late nights out or sleep-ins on a weekend are the first to be sacrificed.

Don’t get upset if we aren’t around to hang out whenever you want. Instead, enjoy the moments of time you do spend together.

I’d like to think that while it’s hard at times being in a relationsh­ip with an athlete, the pros outweigh the cons.

We are highly motivated to achieve our goals and love to encourage our partners to do the same. There is never a dull moment, as we tend to be competitiv­e and will turn even the most mundane tasks into a game.

Being an athlete is a challengin­g career to pursue and the support we receive from our loved ones is what helps make it possible.

At times to be successful, we must be selfish, and while sport is the No 1 priority now, it doesn’t mean it will always be.

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