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It’s Hard to be Horrible

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Whether you’re playing for or supporting someone on a horrible team, it’s tough. Winning is easy but losing is a whole different story.

Learn what you can do to make the most out of a bad situation.

Winning cures a lot of problems, and losing turns a lot of things into problems. Whether you’re playing, coaching or watching in support – if you’re in sports very long eventually you’re going to be a part of a pretty bad team. Maybe the team itself isn’t “bad”, it just might not play very good. Either way, losing is hard, particularly when your team is weak enough that you know it’s going to happen a lot!

This kind of season isn’t easy for anyone to be a part of, and yet you can’t go around quitting every time a team starts losing. I know that a lot of people consider this option once they realize the team they signed up for isn’t going to finish in first place, but quitting isn’t what sports is all about.

Let’s check out some things you can do if anyone you know becomes part of a losing team:

  • Remember that it’s Hard to Be Horrible – the knee-jerk reaction when a team is really bad is to yell and get frustrated. Neither one is helpful since every member of the team is frustrated already. Remember that being horrible is really hard and what people need is support and encouragement and patience. Pointing out how bad they are and all the bad things they’re doing might make you feel better, but it doesn’t do anything to fix the situation. Most bad teams know what they’re doing is wrong, they just can’t fix them.
  • Offer Encouragement – Be different! While everyone around you is finger pointing all the negatives and blaming everyone for the problems YOU be different. Offer encouragement! Be the lone voice in the forest. You can imagine how hard it is to constantly be told all the things you’re doing wrong. It’s a TON of negative emotions and energy pilled on top of an already negative situation. Try your best to encourage their next effort instead of pointing out the errors of their past ones.
  • Notice Closer – since the good plays may not happen that much you’ve got to watch closer and notice them when they do occur.
  • Find the Good – the bad is obvious in these situations so noticing that is easy. What’s hard is to notice any kind of improvement or good that might be going on.
  • Stay Onboard – it’s easy for rats to jump off a sinking ship, but how easy is it to stay on board and try to fix the leak as the ship goes down? Instead of taking the easy way out and complaining like everyone else, work to stay onboard and fix the problem, even if you can only fix it a little bit. Staying and fixing beats jumping off.  Have your players help each other up, get each other’s gloves or bats, encourage each other when they fail and generally be there for each other. When you see players doing these little things amidst the failure then you know you’ve got a situation that won’t last long, and that is forging great teammates for the future!
  • Don’t Guess – 2nd guessing the decisions made by the coaches, or the umpires, or the starting players is easy. Anybody can wait until a play finishes to say what should have happened. What’s hard is to have the guts to call the play before you know how it’s going to end up. When a team is playing poorly they don’t need people 2nd guessing everything that’s going on – they need support! 2nd guessing is just that – guessing. It doesn’t help anyone on the team and can really make things worse.
  • Fix What You Can – there are a lot of different reasons why teams end up being horrible. Sometimes it’s a lack of talent, other times team chemistry is so bad that good talent falls apart. Other times injuries will force younger, less-skilled players into key roles that they aren’t ready to handle. And once in a while it’s not that your team is so bad as it is the opponents are just so much better. Whatever the case with your team right now, find the part that you can fix. If you’ve got a really young team playing against veteran opponents, wishing they were older is a pretty bad plan. Instead, work with the younger players to help slow the game down for them so they can remember all the things they went over in practice. Keep things simple and fix what you can.
  • If You Can’t Say Anything Nice – you know how this ends…then don’t say anything at all. It’s easy to start bad-mouthing people behind their backs when things go bad. Resist the temptation and set the example for your young players. Don’t let your players talk bad about their teammates, or their coaching staff or the umpires, and don’t you do it either!
  • Let it Motivate You – the one thing about being horrible is that there’s NOTHING good about it so you don’t want it to happen again. That can be a big motivator for years to come. Learn what you can from the situation you’re in, do what you can to change even the slightest little part of it and then work your butt off to make sure it never happens again in the future!

Remember that nobody gets up in the morning to be horrible, so when it happens the people doing it want to fix it as much as those watching them want them to. The next time you encounter a poor team be supportive, offer encouragement and try to part of the solution.

For more help with this topic check out the following:

Book: A Coach’s Guide to Creating Team Chemistry

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