Have you ever coached a youth sports team? For the last 3 years I have been coaching a elementary school soccer team. Our team name is the Mighty Maroon Monsters, try saying that 5x fast. Now that the girls are 8 and 9 they play with 7 players on the field. In years past, they played kick and chase on a smaller field and the need for playing in assigned positions was not as crucial. Everyone played bumble bee ball and ran around the field in a big blob.
I have always had high expectations for my team. They all know that I expect three things from all my players, a trying attitude, proper technique to prevent injury and communication skills with their teammates on and off the field. To me, these are the three factors that make the difference between success and failure.
While running a drill during practice last week the girls were getting frustrated. Six of them were challenged to pass the ball and keep it away from me. They were confined to a box marked with cones and I told them if I got the ball I would kick it REALLY far away and as a team they would have to run and get it together.
-Attempt 1: girls were disorganized. I got the ball within the first two passes and kicked it across the field. They ran. We debriefed and chatted about what they could do differently the next round.
-Attempt 2: I got the ball within 1 pass. They ran. We debriefed again.
-Attempt 3: girls are frustrated. I get the ball again and kicked it across the field. They ran. We debriefed. When they returned all of them had heads sulking low. I asked them, do you believe that the 6 of you can keep the ball away from me for 5 passes? Several said no. We chatted about believing in yourself and if you don't believe in yourself you will never achieve your goal.
-Attempt 4: they passed the ball 3 times before I kicked it away. They ran. We talked about how that was the most passes they had gotten so far. We even made up a chant about believing in ourselves.
-Attempt 5: girls passed the ball 6 times! This time, I had to run. They lovvvved that.
-Attempt 6: they passed the ball 10 times! I ran again.
At the end of practice the team huddled up before going home. I asked the girls a question. "Why do you think you struggled so much the first 4 attempts but not the 5th and 6th? What changed?" They thought about it and one girl spoke up saying, "It was because we started believing in ourselves. Once we started chanting and believing in ourselves we started to achieve. Again and again."
As adults, we sometimes get this way too. It is easier to sink our heads and get down on ourselves than focus and believe in ourselves for next time. Often times, we don't spend time debriefing and learning from our mistakes. We just keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
My challenge for you this week is to think of something you are struggling with. Find a trusted companion and debrief on how you can learn from your situation and make changes for your next attempt.