Coaching and adversity
Once after a loss, my friend and fellow coach Rich Youngman said one of the more profound things I’ve ever heard in relation to coaching, and certainly one of the most profound things he ever said. After there was some tension about the game, and our poor play, he said, “Adversity doesn’t build character. It reveals it.”
With the high school season well under way, and the summer season for younger players getting under way, those are words for all coaches to remember. It can be very frustrating when your team doesn’t play the way you know it can. It’s aggravating when they let balls go between their legs, or drop in front of them instead of catching them. It’s maddening when they’re taking called third strikes or swinging at balls over their heads. And when the losses start piling up it’s not very much fun to be in charge of the mess.
Believe me, I know. I’ve coached those teams. Sooner or later, most of us will no matter how hard we try to avoid it. As difficult as it is, it’s important to keep it together. You may want to yell, scream and disparage your players, especially if it seems like you’re the only one who feels bad about the poor play, but fight the urge and remember that this too shall pass.
Actually, let me amend that. Sometimes a little strategic yelling can work wonders — if it’s done as a “wakeup call.” What doesn’t work is the complaining-type of yelling, with put-downs and insults thrown in anger. You may feel better temporarily, but in the end it just helps you and the team circle the drain faster.
Once again, remember that adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it. When adversity strikes, what is it revealing about you?