#80: Q&A: What To Do When A Coach Is Demotivating

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Have you ever seen your female athlete get demotivated? Do you see external factors causing her to be demotivated? 

It’s painful to watch your daughter get demotivated, especially when the negative feelings are caused by external factors such as her teammates, coaches, etc. We feel the urge to do something at these moments when the coach seems like the reason why the whole team is feeling down.

“My daughter receives your texts and takes a lot of the messages which is great. But her performance anxiety isn’t self-inflicted; it’s more of a domino effect. I say this because she goes in confident and she will make a mistake. She’s 15 BUT her coach will berate her and her teammates on the court in front of the other team members. She loses motivation because if there is a moment when things are falling apart the same coach will sit on the sidelines and sulk. What tips can you offer so kids like mine can be ‘the mature’ individual and keep their team spirit alive when the coach is the one driving it down?”

This is one of the questions I got from ECP moms. A lot of moms could relate to this and if they haven’t experienced this— there’s a possibility to experience this in the future. So what do we do as moms when a coach is demotivating?

Focus on what’s in their control.

In situations where the external factors heavily affect your female athlete, don’t speak negatively about the coach or blame. 

We want to make sure that our daughters are not blaming other people for their performance. 

I’m not saying this isn’t hard. She’s dealing with a real challenge here. However, getting into a victim mindset will quickly cut off any opportunity for her to actually get better and perform well in these situations. 

One thing that you can do as an athlete’s mom is making sure that you’re not speaking negatively about the coach or blaming the coach. 

Because what that does, even though parts of that are true, is it just teaches our daughters to shift the blame to something else when something goes wrong. 

We can’t control how their coach responds to a mistake. There’s a lot that’s out of our control and wasting time and energy on what the coach is doing is just making the situation worse.

Even though it might feel like this problem is not self-inflicted, this could be an internal thing as well. It could be true that the stimulus to be unmotivated is coming from the outside, but how she responds is coming from what’s inside her— that’s in her control. 

“There is a lot that is out of your control here. What is in your control?” 

We must teach them the skills to focus on what’s in their control. Acknowledge that there’s a lot that’s out of our control, and empower your daughter to come up with solutions. 

There are a lot of things in your daughter’s control. 

  • Her mindset is in her control
  • Her ability to stay focused is in her control 
  • Encouraging her teammates is in her control

All of those things are 100% in her control and she can be focusing on those things instead of focusing on what her coaches do or what her coaches say to her. 

Brainstorm and then have her pick one that she is going to focus on. The best thing your daughter can do is go in feeling confident, empowered, and with a plan. 

Go in with a plan! 

You can help them pinpoint a moment and brainstorm what they can do when a demotivating situation happens. 

For example:

When the coach yells/sulks, I will…

-Take a breath

-Focus on increasing my communication with my teammates

Athletes in our Elite Competitor Program have reset words and mistake rituals that they can use. 

We have them:

  • Identify the situation
  • Identify what skill they’re going to use
  • And visualize it

Our ECP athletes go in with a plan. And they know exactly what to do in facing difficult moments. By focusing on what’s in their control, they feel confident that they can go in and not be pulled down by their coach or any external factors that may affect them.

As moms, we can support them by guiding them and by giving them the opportunities to have the mental skills to cope.

What we can do is:

  • Avoid going into that victim mindset and blaming other people for her lack of motivation. Blaming other people won’t do you good.
  • There’s a lot that’s out of your control, but what is in your control?
  • Brainstorm what’s in her control in this situation and then equip her with a plan.

There are a lot of angles we can look at from these kinds of situations. But here are the key things you can do, so when she goes into that situation, she’s ready. All these are important in facing any problems in her athletic journey.


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