We’ve all been on airplanes and heard the flight attendant tell us that “in case of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop down from the ceiling. Put your mask on first, before assisting others”. This sentence holds a valuable key for all coaches.
Discover the 4 ways that you can help keep your players calm in moments of panic by “putting your oxygen mask on first”.
Whenever crisis or panic strikes, coaches must take care of themselves first. I don’t mean this in an egotistical help-yourself-first way, like making sure you’re at the front of the buffet line, or getting on the bus first. No – what I mean is when crisis hits and some or all of our players are panicking, we’ve got to calm ourselves down before we can start helping any of them!
While that might sound reasonable, let’s look at 4 ways as coaches, we can “Put Our Oxygen Mask on First”:
- Take a Deep Breath – The reason the masks drop from the ceiling is because there’s a “loss of cabin pressure”. Meaning, the air is running out, so the masks are there to help you breathe. If you can’t breathe you can’t help anyone else breathe, so the next time panic strikes, remember to Breathe by “Putting Your Oxygen Mask on First”!
- Don’t Judge – Once you’ve taken a deep breath and your “mask is on”, then you’re able to start helping others put on theirs, not judging why they don’t have them on. It wouldn’t be helpful to start saying things like “why can’t you get your mask on?”, or “what’s wrong with you?” or in general, judgments about their struggle to get the mask on and breathe. It wouldn’t be appropriate because there’s no time to waste judging their inabilities – instead, you’d simply move into “action” and figure out how to help them. The SAME applies to coaching – when panic strikes, there’s no time for judging by asking “why…?”, instead, switch over and help the player take action toward calming themselves down.
- Provide Solutions – Once the player or players have started breathing and calmed down then you can help them focus on the action to take to get out of the situation that’s causing the panic. Move forward with solution-based help instead of staying in the past with judgment-based comments. I don’t need you to ask me why I don’t have my mask on, I just need you to help me get it on!
- Look, Act, Talk CALM – And the best way you can help players when they panic, is to Look and Act and Talk in a calm and reassuring voice. If you sound or look or seemed panicked then others around you will panic even more. Be the calm and be the solution you want them to find! That’s why you’re the coach – you’re leading them toward the solution, so do so in as calm and reassuring a manner as possible!
For more help with your team’s interaction and ability to deal with pressure, check out the following:
- Team Culture: The Key to Your Team’s Success (eClinic)
- Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry: Tips to Coaching Female Athletes (Book)
- The Ultimate Softball Practice Guide (Book)
- The Ultimate Softball Practice Guide (eBook)