Have you encountered a player or players you couldn’t reach over the course of a season? They always looked at you skeptically with locked out body language when you addressed the team, and didn’t appear to trust you or anyone else. Where does that originate? Is it essential that it should change? At that point is their attitude detrimental to the team?
We all understand that attitudes are shaped and based on life experiences, either through our family or situations with others. Often those experiences aren’t very pleasant and thus a mistrustful attitude is born. Plus, many parents teach their children to be skeptical of everyone they meet as a safeguard. I think you’d agree that’s a good approach in today’s society. The question is, should it last a lifetime with everyone our player meets? Can it be changed or altered if necessary?
Should we always be obsessed with changing the attitudes of our players to our way of thinking? I think not.
Give thought to your personality and level of trust. Can it be a benefit to have players with the opposite perspective? Without a doubt! Just by disagreeing they cause us to often rethink the activity, strategy and ways to get through to our players. The key is teaching our players not to necessarily change their attitude, but to deal with situations in a respectful and “let’s see manner.”
What is a “let’s see manner?” Its players waiting to see how something plays out, the benefit it may have for them and that maybe it might just be a good thing. All we’re doing is asking them to change the lens they look through and be a little more flexible. Every time they are, it builds trust and over the course of time shifts the outlook from, “I hate doing this,” to “Wow! This isn’t bad,” and “I had no idea this would help me and the team so much.”
Attitudes, unlike skills, can take a long time to adjust, and very often you may never see it. Doesn’t mean you stop trying. Takes a lot of patience, and at times tolerance, to work through the lessons of a tolerant and accepting attitude.
How can you get started?
Meet with the player(s). Let them know you sense some skepticism. Ask for their feedback and see if they will share where it originates.
Let them know what kind of coach you are, and what you expect from every player.
Ask how they think attitude and outlook impacts a player and the team.
Share your ideas on how players should address areas they don’t agree with.
Ask their thoughts.
Explain that your door is always open should they want to discuss anything.
Avoid giving this player very special treatment because you feel especially bad for past experiences in their life.
Be consistent with your words and actions. All players must be held accountable in practice and games. These individuals are especially sensitive to inconsistency or favoritism.
Remember to call on them, as well as other players, from time to time with thoughts about what they accomplished in practice to end the day.
Pair them up, or put them in a strong leadership group that can help with any issues they may be having.
We often shy away from allowing this type of player an opportunity to speak in front of the team, unsure of what they might say. How about calling on them and showing we have confidence and value their opinion as much as anyone on the team.
You may want to put them in a leadership role (as well as other players) for a day to see what it’s like. They may gain an appreciation for what you do, and see firsthand that it’s not easy taking care of so many players and viewpoints.
Another reason behind the skeptical attitude may be boredom. They may not see the justification or reasoning for many repetitions of a particular skill or play. Explaining the “why” and how it will help them and the team may be all they need.
Just because they’re skeptical in the beginning doesn’t mean they need to be their whole career. Keep working to break down that barrier, it will be worth it.
I wish you and your team the best.