I have met many people who struggle to adapt when a challenge comes their way. They are typically amazing planners, very detail oriented, and have every step of their life planned. However, they often struggle when life happens, a new obstacle is added, or something outside of their control stops their plan from happening the way they envision it. Rather than seeing a detour and the new possibilities it can bring, they see a road block and become mentally and emotionally paralysed.
The true measure of a youth coach is not in how many trophies ‘they’ have won, or whether ‘they’ won their last game. The true measure of a youth coach won’t be seen for many years, but it will be seen when the player gets into high school or university. It will be seen when the player is no longer reliant on being the biggest, fastest, or strongest (which tend to equalise over the years) but in how well the player is able to read a game and make the game-changing decisions. It is seen when a player is able to be gracious in both victory and defeat. It is seen when a player supports a team mate who scored an own goal, or made a potentially confidence destroying mistake.
I started this blog with the intent of talking about performance and social identity, especially as it relates to Tourette’s Syndrome. Instead I have found myself bouncing around from mental illness to youth sport and from suicide to hope. Last week I questioned my intent and asked myself some questions about what it is I want to achieve here, as recently I have found that a lot has been about hope. I started to think about this as typically I start out each article thinking about the direction my writing will go and often find myself veering off as my thoughts take a new direction. Now, after some reflection, finally I think I have the answer. No matter what happens in life, hopelessness will destroy it. While this is true across humanity, the most instantly observable environment is sport.
One of the (many) things I really like about my son’s coach is that there is always a take away. There are always positives, and always something to work on. Always. Even if they win every game 10-0 there is still something to improve on. This is every bit as important as working to improve when you are losing. Failing to identify ways to grow because of continual success can result in complacency and a decline in a growth mindset. The coach practices the right things to inspire confidence (high self-efficacy), and a belief that external factors are mere obstacles that can be overcome (high locus of control).
If there is something you can work on, practice it and then take it to rehearsal to see how it can work to improve the team or group. Don’t wait until a skill is needed, bring the solution before the problem arises. The worst case scenario is that you improve yourself, and that is never a bad thing.
The problem isn’t that “you can’t teach ambition”, the problem is that too many people who see themselves as ambitious don’t realise that not everyone has the same life goals and ambitions. Just because someone doesn’t have blood pressure of 220/110 and show their commitment by losing sleep and living with chest pains, it doesn’t make them less ambitious. It just means their ambitions are different to others who are trying to get ahead in the rat race.
Slow down. Take some time to reflect on your journey. Listen to what people are saying. Don’t sacrifice the journey for the destination, enhance the arrival to the destination by having a great journey to talk about.
Based on where I am right now, with my athletic kid trying to drive me to standards that will probably kill me, I am trying to evaluate how much burden is on the people at the higher level to work together to integrate the others into the team. Does development in a team sport always have to be about the game, or can we also help our kids develop by encouraging them to help develop others?
I have found one thing to be common in every single person who has made it through a tough time or had a rough start in life and came good. One person. Every person I have ever met who has fought through adversity has had one person who believed in them, supported them, and encouraged them. One person helped them run that first mile, lift their first weights, and achieve the first step. Then they found others.