Love the Struggle

There’s a lot of talk out there about the current “everyone gets a trophy” culture in youth sports and how it’s tainting the “growing up” experience of current kids.

We talk about the fact that this is bad, and kids are consequently not mentally tough…

What are we doing about it?

Sports are hard. Losing is not fun. We don’t always get what we want.

The idea that something has to change is valid. Youth sports needs help in a lot of places. But, what about the kids already in high school or college who have a real fear of falling short, or even of experimentation. What do do about or with them?

Find a way to include struggle into your day to day activities. Even asking probing questions that don’t have a clear answer can provide a challenge. Push back on assumptions, ask “why?” and “what else do you see/think/feel?”.

These will work to provide safe struggle that can help us get used to being uncomfortable.

This is real and coaches should look closely at helping kids with perfectionist streaks and all kinds of fear.

What We Want

What do we want? What do others want from us? Do you know? Is it important to know?

If we say we absolutely know what we want, that we have our eyes on the prize, that our goals are crystal clear…are we selling ourselves short? Might that prize be “less than” we can achieve if we have a great set of processes and ways of doing?

“This is what I want”, is results-focused thinking without any real definition of “better”, or a goal to reach for and, most importantly, the process that it will entail.

Teams will say “we want to win a championship!”  Great. How? Do you have a plan to go with the want?  A really, really specific plan or set of behaviors that you commit or (or at least know you should commit to) in an effort to reach a goal?

What we want is not as important as what we’ll do and who we’ll be day to day. Help figure this out by asking the key questions like: what do people/teams who get what we want likely do day to day to move toward that want? Do more of that and teach your teams how to know what to do in the short term as you move toward that end game.

Still, no guarantees.

 

Experience Required

When we engage in any activity we gain experience. Experience allows us to fine-tune our processes, to learn from previous reps.

Anyone will get better at an activity, to a degree, with experience, even a “negative” experience.  The baby learning to walk doesn’t “get it” simply because she is growing stronger and bigger, nor do her failures keep her from working at walking.

However, enjoying an activity usually means we will do more of it, be more interested in doing it better, and thus gain more experience. It’s a cycle. One that works.

Logic says we should enjoy–at least to an extent–the activities at which we wish to get better. So making experiences fun or enjoyable would make sense.

How can you make that a part of your coaching?

 

 

 

Intra-team competition

Coach, do you value competitive kids? Of course. Do you want your teams to know how to compete? Sure. Will you work hard to cultivate competitiveness in players who have been working on only their own game for too long? Yes.

It’s important to value competitiveness as a team, and not in a negative way between teammates.  Pushing others to “win” in a practice setting, to beat teammates is not good unless it comes from a place of love.

The sentiment of, “i’m here to make you better, teammate,” is a great way to push you team to compete, but think twice before you encourage kids to “win” at the expense of other kids, in practice.

 

There’s No Scoring On Defense

in some sports “the defense” scores points, although their main role is to stop the other guy from scoring points.  In some, like softball and baseball, there is no way to post on the scoreboard when your team is in the field.

You can only win when you attack. On offense. Find a way to have a strategy on offense that you love, that everyone is bought in to, that speaks “we’re in control”.

Defense is a tone setter, but not scorer. Even if you’re great on D, you can only be totally in control if you have a strategy that allows you to control on attack.

Get to work.

 

When Selfish Is Good

If everyone prioritizes paying attention, even in “a good way”, to what others are doing, their goals and dreams, a team will not be at it’s best.

The word selfish has gotten a bad rep.  Being selfish in your preparation, doing everything you can to be at your best? That’s a great start to making your team better.

By being prepared and modeling the work you put in in selfish-mode you’ll be helping the team from the inside out.  The foundation of a team is it’s people, so be a great person/player/athlete and you’ll be doing your part.

It takes a great group effort to be a great team.  The existence of standards and norms that make up the basis of a team’s culture and the ethic of working together toward a commonly held goal is crucial to outcome success.  However, relying on a set of “great team players” that are not also at their best individually is not a recipe for success.

All teams must work together in a selfless way, but the individuals within should make it a priority to be selfish in their preparation.

Fear of Not Missing Out

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Who’s missing, and who’s not? There is FOMO, Fear of Missing Out, and there is reverse FOMO…the idea that you’re doing something great, and someone is missing it.

When you wonder why people don’t want to do what you’re doing. When you invite someone and they decline. Do you worry about those people too much and not enjoy yourself as much as you could?

Our obsession with the past and the future, our challenge to enjoy who we are and who we are with at this moment, to be satisfied, period. It’s so easy to get excited about the things our future self is going to do, or to reminisce of times gone by. It’s somehow harder to just enjoy. THIS IS GREAT!, right now, is good enough.

Take time to enjoy those who are there, with you, to make the most of your moment and save your emotional energy for those missing for the next time you see them.

It’s ok for “it” to be less than perfect.

Swaddling Teams

People in cultures from all corners of the world swaddle their infants. They wrap them tightly in material so that the baby is constrained yet comfortable.

Arms tight to their sides, just their face clear for breathing, the child is soothed by the containment. It’s like a long-term hug, the comfort of being right where they are and their brains not having to consider much outside the swaddling material.

Entire teams can be swaddled, comforted by the feeling of being surrounded by known people, expectations and norms. Being accepted by those around you and understanding the clear rules and standards of a team offers the comfort of familiarity even if circumstances or relationships are challenging, or may sometimes feel personally constraining.

Are your team members given wide-open freedom to do what they think they should do or are they guided–gently but surely–by the comfort of clear team standards?

Is your way working?