While managing this new world of Covid-19 is challenging, oftentimes confusing, stressful, and even boring, we can also use this time for good and for personal development.
To give your players something positive and helpful to do, here is a simple list that can help your players see their accomplishments instead of their failures and help set them on the right track.
Struggle usually starts from something small and physical and quickly turns into something large and mental. The longer the struggle continues, or the greater the pressure to succeed, the more pressure the player puts herself under so the greater struggle she’ll continue to have. It’s almost like players in this situation continue to create the situations that tear them down – without even knowing it.
So what can we do about it? We can help our players see their behavior more objectively by doing the following exercise:
Quick, look at the following 2 lists and tell me what they have in common?
While they may not look like they have anything in common, both of these are me! Sure, I’ve accomplished all the things in the Black Box but I usually see myself as the person in the Red Box. I’ve had to really work on my self-confidence, particularly outside of softball, and over the years I’ve gotten better. Now at least, I can know acknowledge that I do have a Black Box and that it actually contains some pretty cool things, but it’s still very easy for me to focus on my Red Box of limitations.
I think it’s common for people to overlook their strengths and instead, focus on their weaknesses – especially women. Everyone from mega stars to average people have 2 sets of qualities – or Black Boxes and Red Boxes. What matters is which group we focus on and carry around with us in your heads. It’s like looking at that partially filled glass of water and saying it’s either half-full or half-empty – it all depends on your outlook on life even though your view of the glass is the same. Same thing goes for how you look at yourself, or if you’re a coach, how your players choose to look at themselves – they can see themselves as either half-empty or half-full.
In order for us to succeed in things like softball, academics, the workplace and life, we need to believe in ourselves and keep going when things get hard. The ability to continue working or studying or practicing depends a great deal on our belief that we can do something better. This belief is called confidence, and is nothing more than a belief in our self.
Some rare people just naturally have a lot of confidence, but most of us go through life seeing our Red Box crammed full of things and barely recognizing we even have a Black Box. If we can get our players to acknowledge their Black Box then they’ll increase their self-confidence and be able to practice harder and succeed more often. So how do we help our players increase their self-belief?
Here’s a simple exercise that you can do with your players (and I mean YOU need to do it too) that will really help your players increase their belief in themselves by realizing they have some pretty great qualities instead of just weaknesses:
- Get your team together and give everyone a piece of notebook paper and a pen
- Have everyone fold their paper in half
- On the Left half write ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- On the Right half write LIMITATIONS
- Before you tell everyone what to do let them know that nobody will see their sheet (unless they want to share it) so they can be completely honest
- Have everyone start by filling in their “Accomplishments” side of the page. These are things they’ve accomplished in anything, not just softball. These could be things like: “A student”, “plays violin”, “strong arm”, “great bunter”, ”fast”, “all-tournament”, etc…
- When your players have finished all the “Accomplishments” they can think of have them tackle their “Limitations” or the negative thoughts about themselves. These will be much easier for your players to do so don’t be surprised when they race through their limitations and struggle on their accomplishments. For most of us, it’s easier to think about, and even list all of our shortcomings or negatives than it is to recognize our accomplishments.
When everyone has completed both sides of their sheet then you can share your page. I think it’s good for our players to see that even though we’re coaches, we have self-doubts or things we’re afraid of. Players might see some of my accomplishments as impressive, as if they could never do those things – but then they look at my limitations list and realize they’re more like me than they thought.
The purpose of the Accomplishments and Limitations list is to help everyone realize 2 things:
- Having fears and failures and weaknesses makes us normal and not weird, because we all have them.
- We all have things we’ve accomplished and those things deserve to be as much a part of our thoughts as anything negative.
So help your players improve their self-confidence the next time they get discouraged and negative. Help them realize that in addition to thier negative thoughts/list they also have a whole other list of things they should remember, and to apply the same effort now as they did to achieve their accomplishments.
For more ways to help your players improve their self-confidence check out our Book: A Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry.