January 27, 2009
Coping with Mistakes:Teaching Tolerance by Tony DiCicco
Coping with Mistakes: Teaching Tolerance
by Tony DiCicco
Tolerance is important not only between and among teammates but also for individual players personally. Ideally, this tolerance starts at the top with the coach.
Players make mistakes, some of them physical and some mental. It's the job of a coach to point out those mistakes, to help each player recognize the error and then, more important, provide the tools to correct it. It's also the job of the coach to make it clear that if a player makes a mistake, it's not the end of the world. It's equally vital to coach players when they've been successful. In fact, the most enlightened coaches spend more time congratulating successes than correcting mistakes.
Over the years I've had players who, when they made a mistake, were clearly much harder on themselves than they would have been on a teammate who'd made the same mistake. These players take themselves down emotionally and tear themselves up mentally. Frankly, I was like that too. But what you have to understand is that if you're a member of a team, you have the responsibility to keep your own performance up.
If you tear yourself down or beat yourself up, you're not only hurting your own performance but also the collective performance of the team. It is crucial to teach your players to have tolerance for their own performance and a realistic understanding that no one's perfect. Obviously, this isn't easy for most of us. To facilitate the process you can encourage your players to begin to build key words or phrases that will get them back on focus.
SHIFTING FOCUS FROM PAST. As a goalkeeper I used to say to myself when I'd make a mistake in a game, "OK, that was a bad play, but you're going to need to come up with a big play to win this game." So immediately, instead of focusing on the bad play I'd just made, I started focusing on that big play in order to reshape my mental approach. I didn't know when I was going to make it, but I knew that when I got the opportunity, it was going to be a big play that would turn the game around. In essence, my focus shifted from the past to the present because I needed to be ready now, in the moment.
Check back next week for the continuation of this interesting article.