Whether you are a coach, captain, athletic trainer, fitness trainer, or sport psychology consultant, there is only one thing that you are striving for, and that’s for the athletes to understand/perceive, and I mean really buy-in, to what you are telling them to believe and do.

So how can you as a leader help them see?

First, be strong enough as a leader to stick around and consistently relay the message during the “blind” times. But the answer to the question is to watch them fail at the attempt of doing it their own way.

If there was one thing that I love about my father is that no matter what dumb thing I wanted to join or do, even though he knew it wasn’t good or the right time for it, he never stopped me. He allowed me to fail at it.

In California, a mentor told me this saying with a double meaning, “You fail to be aware.”
Do you see the two ways of reading it!?

Since then I do two things: One, I am always wanting to learn new things from others and two, I risk learning it myself. I like how a pastor used fail for an acronym(First Attempt In Learning).

Watching an athlete in this process is difficult to watch as a coach. Especially if it’s an athlete who is coming off of an injury. If the athlete believed that they didn’t have to listen to their physical therapist about how many times to do their therapeutic exercises, then that could be a major blow to your program and most importantly to that athletes well being.

All leaders hate to witness the process of learning the hard way but they know it’s necessary for those who can’t see what is being spoken.

Sometimes you really don’t want to see them fail but if they are egoistic and on your roster for the season, you have to deal with it and be the great leader you are.

However, there are three areas that you as a leader can approach an athlete like this.

Three things that hinder athletes from seeing:
1) Their own thought structure
All athletes come in with an idea of “how things should be run”. It’s important for leaders to begin to figure out what those ideas are. Through conversation we can get their ideas introduced to “how things are run” in your program.

2) They don’t cope well with habit change (aversion towards change)
Adapting is hard. It’s why you hear of people saying they have to hit rock bottom. It seems like only pain pushes people out of bad habits. Leaders can help with this process by showing the athletes their lives and the tools they use in the new habit being offered.

3) They don’t like feeling the feeling of not knowing something
No one likes to be uncomfortable. And this shows itself in an athlete emotionally. They will act out not because they are bad but because they are uncomfortable with the new reality you want them to be apart of. As a leader this is why building a relationship with them is critical because they have to trust you in order to allow you to lead them where their emotions are telling them not to go.

And it will be those three personal hindrances that will open the athlete’s eyes because they will lead them toward failure of the particular actions they are perhaps unknowingly refusing to see.
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