Through our years of playing, coaching, and basically living, we've all heard many motivational speeches and had one-on-one talks given to us. Some have been good, some have been not so good and some we will never forget the words or the impact made. We store these motivating tidbits in our coaching bag of tools and use them on a daily basis or when they are specifically needed.
Years ago, I had a talk with one of my mentors and this conversation has become a way of living for me: Control 100% of the things you can control.
For various reasons this past week, I've had multiple players speak to me about their different situations, and my immediate response mimicked the guidance from my mentor years ago; It all comes back to one simple way of thought and motivational sentence...control 100% of the things you can control.
This was one of the situations:
I coach a very young player who I've been working with for a couple of months now. It's his second year playing rec. basketball, and his fundamentals are very basic. Through our sessions, he has blossomed! His shot has improved tremendously, his ball handling is night and day from where we started, but most importantly, his confidence is through the roof.
In many situations as a private coach, you create an environment and level of trust where players can really come out of their shell. Then it's totally different when the athlete rejoins his/her team.
This was the situation with this particular player. After one of our sessions, he asked for some advice. "Coach, what do you do when the other players don't pass the ball to you?" We've all been there as players. You are working so hard, doing the right things, the ball just isn't coming your way. Especially in youth sports where there might be one or two more talented players than the others that shoot most of the shots. Also, in young rec. teams, the idea of passing and ball movement, etc. has not set in yet, so it puts more pressure on the individual player to make their own moves. As a child though, you don't understand these things, and it can be confusing as well as disheartening. I explained to him that, though it's difficult, he needs to control 100% of the things he can control.
Sounds simple, but is easier said than done.
What I mean is to take ownership of everything that you actually can. You can control so many aspects of your game: your focus, effort, preparation, attitude, and follow through are just a few. You can take all the coaching you've been given and execute it in your game. Getting open, shot stance, those special moves that your coach showed you all are within your control. Being a good teammate, sportsmanship, listening to coaches...you guys get the point. All the things you have control of will set you up for success if managed in a hard working and positive way.
With that said, there are many things that we cannot control. You can't control that bad call by the ref, the weather you are playing in, the injury you might have suffered, the bad attitude your teammate has, your coaches opinion of you, and all the other things that can happen in sports. What's important is how you react to the things you cannot control.
We need to teach our players how to manage their stresses and worries. Attitude is everything and keeping your emotions intact, a positive outlook, and trusting the process will help mold the situations around them to successful ones.
When our players spend time stressing about these uncontrollable aspects, they are wasting time and effort that could otherwise be used for good. Having a mindset of flipping situations into controllable ones will change your players and help make them better people. Coaches and parents, eyes are on you, lead by example and think about how you react to what you can't control.
So, back to my player that isn't getting the ball. I talked to him about how hard he's been working, using what he has learned and keeping his head focused on what he can control. Positive persistence will prevail. It's the same talk that can be given to any situation presented to us by a player that has something negative going on. It's how he or she reacts to the negativity and which way they bounce afterwards.
A few days later, after his next game, I was speaking to his mom about this problem. She said he kept working hard and the ball started to come his way. She also said that before the game she asked him what his plan was. He said "mom, I'm going to try hard, stay positive, and believe in myself". That was music to my ears. In life many things are thrown our way that we can't control, but we can 100% control the way we react to them!
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