#199: Athlete Tip: How to Thrive Under a Challenging Coach

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A common concern that many athletes, including your child, may encounter in their games is dealing with challenging coaches.

As a sports mom, you’ve likely witnessed firsthand the impact a coach can have on your child’s athletic experience. Whether it’s issues with communication, feedback, or coaching style, navigating these challenges can be stressful.

But as a coach myself, we’re going to explore tips and strategies to help your child thrive under a challenging coach.

Before we delve deeper, first let’s identify what a challenging coach is.

What is a challenging coach?

It is essential to understand what we mean by a “challenging coach.” First of all, we’re not referring to coaches who are verbally or physically abusive. In this case, if you suspect any form of abuse, it’s crucial to take immediate action.

What we mean by challenging coaches are the coaches whose style may not align with your child’s preferences. This could include issues like unclear communication, perceived favoritism, excessive yelling, or lack of constructive feedback.

These challenges could affect your child’s ability to perform at their best and fully enjoy their sport.

When your daughter is facing these situations, here are helpful steps that you could take:

  1. Shift her perspective from seeing challenges as opportunities.

The first step in helping your child thrive under a challenging coach is to encourage her to change her perspective. Instead of viewing the situation as a setback, encourage her to see it as an opportunity for personal and athletic growth.

By reframing her mindset, she empowers herself to find value in the experience and become a better athlete as a result.

Here’s how you can help her make this shift:

  • Encourage your daughter to see the coach’s behavior as an opportunity to enhance her skills and resilience, rather than feeling victimized by it.
  • Remind her that the coach’s behavior does not define her worth or abilities as an athlete.
  • Nurture in her the mindset that she has the power to control her confidence and no one could take this from her.

2. Seek to understand the coach’s humanity.

Your child needs to remember that coaches are human too. Coaches have their strengths, weaknesses, and lives outside of coaching.

Helping your child understand this can foster empathy and help her manage her expectations accordingly.

When talking with your child about her coach’s human side, here are some key points to discuss with her:

  • Coaches have their own lives and responsibilities beyond coaching. They may not always be solely focused on her performance or mistakes as she might have thought.
  • Encourage your child to avoid fixating on what their coach may be thinking about them. Most likely, the coach has other priorities and concerns.
  • Help your daughter acknowledge that coaches make mistakes and have limitations.
  • Instead of dwelling on their shortcomings, encourage your athlete daughter to focus on the coach’s strengths and contributions to her development as an athlete.

3. Finding value in every feedback.

One of the biggest challenges that athletes face with difficult coaches is receiving feedback. While some coaches may deliver feedback in a less-than-ideal manner, it’s crucial for your daughter to see every critique as an opportunity for improvement.

Teach your child to recognize the value of feedback, regardless of how it’s delivered. Every critique is a chance for growth and development.

At the same time, encourage her to look beyond the delivery style and focus on the substance of the feedback. Even if it’s not presented in the most positive light, there may still be valuable insights to glean.

4. Advocate for herself by being open to communication.

Your daughter must advocate for herself and communicate openly with her coach. By expressing her needs and concerns respectfully, both coach and athlete can foster a more positive and productive coach-athlete relationship.

Here are some tips to attain open communication:

  • Encourage your daughter to schedule a meeting with her coach to discuss any questions or concerns she may have about her performance or role on the team.
  • Teach her to be proactive in seeking feedback and clarification on expectations.
  • Encourage her to ask for guidance on how she can improve and contribute more effectively and demonstrate initiative and commitment.
  • Remind your child to approach conversations with a positive attitude and a willingness to listen. Her coach wants to see her succeed and may appreciate her initiative in seeking feedback.

In conclusion, helping your child thrive under a challenging coach is possible with the right mindset and approach.

By supporting her in shifting their perspective, understanding her coach’s humanity, and embracing feedback as an opportunity for growth, you can empower her to navigate challenges and emerge as a stronger, more resilient athlete.

Ultimately, your child’s confidence and performance are in her coach’s hands. By taking ownership of her athletic journey and focusing on what she can control, she can rise above any challenges that come their way.

If you are interested in further developing your daughter’s mental game and enhancing her communication skills with their coach, explore the Elite Mental Game program.

Let us help empower your athletes. To have productive conversations with their coaches is just one of the many skills we teach to help them thrive in their sport.

Episode Highlights: 

[2:09:6] Does your daughter tell you about a coach that she can’t agree with, or doesn’t give feedback, or always yells? Tune in to this episode because we will share practical ways to help your athlete daughter thrive in this challenge.

[03:29:27] How can your daughter change her perspective from being a victim to a victor? Listen up as we discover doable steps to shift this perspective towards becoming a better athlete.

[4:03:06] What your daughter may not realize is that she could give her coach all the power to control her confidence. In this episode, listen in as we talk about how your athlete daughter could regain the power in their confidence and sports experience.  

[05:33:01] How can a challenging coach make your athlete daughter tougher, stronger, and better? Stay tuned as we talk about the mental disciplines that are helpful for your daughter to thrive under a challenging coach.

[06:25:22] How do you help your athlete daughter see their situation with a challenging coach as a good thing? Listen in as we discuss the kind of mindset to develop so that your daughter can see that their coaches are also humans.

[06:44:00] Overthinking could affect your daughter’s confidence especially when she believes that her coach has been thinking about her mistakes. In this episode, learn about what coaches are actually thinking outside of their games.

[08:36:00] What would happen when your athlete’s daughter starts thinking about their coach’s strengths? Keep it here as we share with you the amazing things that happen when your child starts focusing on her coach’s strengths.

[10:08:00] Do you know that while some coaches are not good with the delivery of their feedback, they are still full of nuggets of information for the sport? Learn about the different ways that a challenging coach could still coach your athlete daughter as you stay tuned. 

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