At some point in every athlete’s career, there comes a time when a coach makes you question your love for your sport. A coach that screams, is hypercritical, or is just flat-out mean can sap your desire to play hard. Today we’ll talk about how we can use these tough coaching moments to build character and confidence as a young athlete. Here are a few tips on how to deal with a difficult coach to make your athletic experience stress-free, productive, and fun.
When it comes to the power of positivity, mindset is everything. Conscious positive self-talk can help to refocus the negative energy you receive from a coach. If your coach is constantly deriding your play or getting upset when you make a mistake, take those negative comments and put a positive spin on them. Create a simple mantra like, “I’ve got this,” to create separation and refocus whenever a negative comment is thrown in your direction. Focus on the right things, like your teammates, the game, and why you are playing in the first place. After all, sports are supposed to be fun!
CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLE
No matter what situation you find yourself in, control what you can control. There will be times when a coach screams at you, but you choose how to react, the amount of effort you put forth on the next play, and your thoughts that arise. Remember, two things that you are fully in control of are your attitude and your effort. If you have a good attitude and you give max effort on every play, then things will tend to go your way.
Communicate openly. Tell your coach what you need, for you are your own advocate. Some of the best character building occurs when you stand up for yourself, doing so with respect and kindness. Communication is a two-way street. Not only should you speak about what you need, but you should also be open-minded enough to listen to feedback. This second part is a critical component of the communication loop. We, as athletes, want to succeed and don’t like to hear comments that are critical of our performance. But constructive criticisms can be the most useful form of feedback to take your game to the next level.
Lastly, endure or move on. If a coach is making it impossible to better yourself as an athlete and build character, it might be time to look for a new team. There are relationships in life that simply do not work for one reason or another. Your ability to self-advocate is one of the most important qualities to foster not only in sports but for life in general. Don’t be afraid to speak your truth.
There are a lot of parallels between sports and life-leadership skills, teamwork, and resilience, just to name a few. We want to use the power of sport to enhance our lives and to make us complete human beings. Who you are and how you play matters more than the score.
Kevin is a former collegiate baseball player turned Personal Trainer and Fitness Consultant to a global corporate wellness company. He is passionate about fitness and the importance of a holistic relationship with health and wellness. He loves anything outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and chasing his hyperactive 3-year-old (all of which oddly correlate with each other). To learn more, reach out to him at [email protected]