Who Are We? Creating a Championship Mindset Pt. V
The Art of Correction
It is inevitable that players who are treated differently based on performance become terrified of making mistakes. When players are terrified of making mistakes, athletic success becomes impossible. A player who has been made to feel afraid of failure, as a result of how his coach interacts with him will not have the confidence to jump a route, to step up and fill a gap at the line of scrimmage, to deliver a good ball, or hit a hole hard. He won’t be able to do this because no matter how badly he wants to be successful, in the back of his mind will be that nagging thought, “if I screw this up, coach is gonna kill me.” That thought is a moment of indecision in the absence of confidence and in the sport of football, indecision is usually fatal. We cannot be of a championship mindset if we are tentative. We have to believe. We have to know two undeniable truths about ourselves. That the abilities which comprise a champion exist within us and that if for one moment we slip and fall, we have an eternity to make that right. This strikes right to the heart of what Smitty and I were talking about. If you take that eternity away from your players, they have every right to turn in their pads and leave both you and the sport behind. So don’t. Now when I say this to coaches they automatically assume that I’m taking away their right to pull a player off the field, or to replace him with someone they feel can do a better job. This could not be farther from the truth. On game day I operate by the rule of three. The first time a player makes a mistake I correct it. The second time he makes the same mistake I correct it with intensity. The third time he makes a mistake I pull him from the game, explain why I have to do so, and reassure him that we will work on correcting the issue in practice next week and that he WILL get another opportunity to perform. What I DO NOT do, is say something like “dammit Billy if you can’t do the job then I’ll find someone who can. Get the hell off the field.” If I say that I have removed the hope of improvement, and Billy will not grow, succeed, or even want to play football…and I can’t say that I blame him. Plus, now Billy’s backup, who has witnessed all of this, is understandably tentative. “Geez,” he’s thinking, “I hope I don’t screw up, I hope I don’t screw up, I hope I don’t screw up.” So what does he do? He screws up.
All of the fallacies of action mentioned in throughout this series lead to one inevitable result: LOSS. If your players don’t respect you as a result of your interaction with them, they will not play hard for you and you will lose games. If your players are tentative and meek as a result of your interaction with them, they will not play hard for themselves and you will lose games. But again there is a more important level on which this loss will occur. Your players will lose the ability to believe in themselves. They will constantly be searching for external approval in everything that they do. Nothing will be about working for their benefit, everything will become about pleasing an often arbitrary authority figure. If you damage a player’s self confidence you create drones. We don’t want drones, we want warriors. What’s the difference? Warriors have minds.
Coach Q, a.k.a Yann Kumin, is President of Operations for the Boston Institute of Football and Assistant Head Coach for the D1 Malden Catholic Lancers.
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