One of the really tough things about being a coach is seeing and dealing with the sadness and disappointment of your players when they fail, especially knowing how hard they’ve worked and how much it means to them.
As I’ve said before, I’m not a parent myself yet, but I’m sure that feeling must be magnified when it’s your own child.
A lot of parents I speak to have said they feel helpless in the situation, so my aim here is to give you some simple things you can do to help them not only feel better and get back into a positive mindset but also learn from it.
I think the first thing to do is to put the game and their failure into perspective.
Help them to understand that while yes, the game is important to them, there are so many worse things and people in worse situations around them.
There are people who have to walk miles everyday just to get clean water.
There are people that don’t have food.
People who are missing basic necessities to live and have crime going on all around them.
This is something I try to be conscious of all the time, especially when I’m getting upset about cricket or any other effectively trivial things and it really helps.
A quick dose of perspective really helps you realise getting out for a golden duck really isn’t that bad.
Once they understand this, any time they get in a funk in the future you can just look at them, point your finger, raise your eyebrows, smirk and say “perspective” Haha.
POSITIVITY & SUPPORT
One of the best things you can do is remain in a positive mood and give them love and support.
Of course you want them to succeed but one of the main reasons they’re upset is because they haven’t impressed you and made you proud.
Their world revolves around that.
I remember when I was a young tacker, all I wanted to do was score runs and take wickets so I could go home and tell Mum and Dad.
If you show disappointment or even worse anger - it’s going to crush them.
Show them that you still think the world of them no matter whether they get 100 or 0 and that’s going to really help improve their mood.
Note: Please don’t confuse this with the ‘everyone’s a winner’ attitude. Kids still need to understand that there are winners and losers, there is success and failure…it’s not an ‘everybody wins’ world.
But they do need to know that you love them and think the same of them regardless of whether they win or lose.
Now they’ve calmed down a bit and they’ve established you don’t care whether they win, lose, succeed or fail - now it’s time to help them understand that failure is only failure if they don’t learn from it.
Every single person in the history of sport has and will continue to fail.
Failure is the best teacher.
Help them learn from it by creating positive learning conversations and asking questions.
Here’s a few to start with…
WHAT - did you do well today and what do you need to improve on?
HOW - did you feel out there today and in that situation?
IF - you were in that situation again what, if anything would you do differently?
Ok, we don’t want to dwell on it for too long!
One of the best things I learnt was to create a life away from cricket and learn how to seperate on field with off field.
Talk about other things with them.
Even better, go and do something fun with them after they’ve had a rough day on the field.
Take them to do something they enjoy away from cricket.
I know some kids live, eat & breathe cricket…if that’s the case maybe introduce them to some other hobbies and activities.
It’ll help them forget about their crappy day and put them in a better mood.
I hope that helps although hopefully they don’t have too many rough days where you have to pull out these stops!
Author: Nick Fitzpatrick
ACI Co Founder & Head Coach