Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Coaches

If you’re a coach, you should be very cautious when making statements to the media that your players will be reading and hearing. Many coaches believe they are just being honest, without realizing they could be creating negative expectations for their athletes. And negative expectations often become self-fulfilling prophecies. Here are just a few examples: “We’re not going to be a team that outscores people. We have to have better possessions and probe a little bit more. Don’t take quick 3s.” “We’re a young team and I don’t expect us to do well.” “We’re in a re-building year so it’s going to take a while for us to reach our potential and I doubt it will happen this year.” If a team is not expected to do well, they won’t. Same goes for coaches who run onto a basketball court yelling and screaming at the referees. These coaches generally don’t feel very good about themselves not realizing that by verbally attacking the referees they are providing their teams with a justification for losing. The best coaches are those who have a high sense of inner-self and allow their players to use their God-given talents without trying to micromanage their players.

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It’s not bad when a coach speaks up for his or her team during competition when a bad call is made by a referee, but when this behavior is carried to excess, it provides the team with a justification for losing. (“The ref ****** us.”) Coaches need to control their tempers and be cautious when criticizing refs during games. And those coaches who are unable to control their tempers more than likely have an issue or issues in their personal lives that are affecting their behavior in public. They need to get counseling and get their personal lives in order.

Every coach would like to know what his or her team is REALLY thinking, and that’s why I highly recommend a focus group as the first phase when working with a team, without coaches present.  A focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. The first focus groups were created by psychologist and marketing expert Ernest Dichter. But a focus group can also be an effective tool as a first phase when working with sports teams, providing team members with an opportunity to express opinions without coaches present. The second phase is when the team transitions into becoming a support group and teammates begin to share their personal issues and problems with each other. But it’s important to remember that these groups are successful only after participants are assured their comments and observations will be kept in strict confidence and will not leave the room. Also, they are only successful as long as there is no authority figure in attendance, someone who can bench them or cut them from the team (such as a coach) for being honest. That’s why the services of an outside facilitator are so important. If there is someone in the room who can punish them for being honest, it diminishes and completely eliminates honest interaction among teammates. But when support groups are effective, teammates will begin to feel better about themselves resulting in their enhanced performance, especially when introduced to “guided imagery” visualization.

When Tiger Woods was going through his difficulty regarding his extra-marital affairs, former NFL running back Eddie George, when asked what percentage of NFL players, in his opinion, we’re having extra-marital affairs, he replied: Ninety Per Cent. If this is true, that means 90% of all NFL players are living a lie and are not performing anywhere near their skill levels. And this lie will show up in the form of fumbles, dropped passes, and missed blocks, not to mention excessive penalties. And I feel confident the percentage of NBA players is probably similar. When athletes and coaches “withhold” about having extra-marital affairs, it’s definitely lying, and it’s this lying that demeans them and lowers their feelings of self-worth creating psychological baggage that affects their ability to focus and process information. When coaches are having extra-marital affairs, it will show up in how they interact with their team members. They are generally short tempered because they have anger that is often “misdirected,” they take fewer risks when making coaching decisions, and if they make an error in judgment, they will make excuses and not accept responsibility because they fear the consequences of their being honest, such as: being fired. These coaches will often experience stress which they’ve created for themselves, and in many instances it will show up in the form of a life-threatening illness.


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