How gratitude changes the way you think about your most challenging athletes

Written by Erica Quam

It's the challenging athletes who drain you. The ones who take the most time and attention. They can zap your energy - while whittling away at your passion and inspiration. Just when you think you've got your team moving together in the right direction...the issues begin and the drama escalates.

(You have someone in mind...right? Your blood pressure may already be going up just reading this...)

Your other athletes sense your frustration and are most likely fed up with the whole situation. 

They don't know what to say to you...and they're not quite sure how to handle their teammate.

This energy can not only keep your team stuck...it can widen the gap between where you are, and where you wanna go.

You didn't sign up for this.  You just wanna coach!!!!  Is that too much to ask????

Let's talk about a better approach.

The frustrating thing about anyone else is that you can't change them. You can only change YOU. You've got to find a way to take a step back, to look at the bigger picture and the broader lesson.

With each challenging athlete ask yourself...what are THEY here to teach YOU

  • setting boundaries & saying no
  • how to handle mental health issues
  • supporting diversity on your team
  • emphasizing character over results
  • coaching leadership in your captains
  • facilitating team conflicts
  • maintaining a positive team environment
  • teaching your assistant coach
  • better clarity in your recruiting
  • communicating expectations up front
  • reinforcing rules more consistently
  • how to tap into other resources and ask for help
  • creating a support system for yourself

I have this belief. It may sound crazy. And I believe if you DON'T learn how to deal with each challenging athlete on your team - or person in your life for that matter - then there will be a whole lot more of them lining up for you.

Where does gratitude come in?

When you can shift your energy to gratitude, it will change everything for you.

Gratitude list: As hard as it may be at first, write your challenging athlete down as part of a gratitude list. Next, take a few minutes to consider the lessons that they are helping you learn. Write that down as well - that you are grateful for learning the lesson of x, y, or z.

Gratitude letter: Go a step further and write a thank you note to them. (You don't have to give it to them.) Thank them for what they are teaching you as a coach and how they are helping you grow as a person.

The next time you deal with an issue that comes up, perhaps you can be less hooked, more objective, and see them in a different light.

While this may not change them, it will definitely change you. 

Share what your challenging athletes have taught you in the comments below.