The impact one athlete can have despite a screaming coach

How a 14-year old uses the Zone to take leadership and inspire his team

I’ve written many blogs and articles on the need to be in the Zone and the following email exchange between a client’s father and me demonstrates it well.

It refers to a 14-year old young man and his father who took my high performance Ignition Series of six sessions, where they learned the Zone and the means to stay in it. The names have been changed to protect the young man’s identity and this email has been published with permission from my client. Where more information is needed via an explanation, I’ve put the explanation in  […… ].

This email exchange demonstrates how important it is for the athlete AND the coach AND the parents to all be in the Zone. In this case I could not control all variables as I did not have access to the coaches. However, as you will read, my young client has successfully used the tools and strategies from the SportExcel system to take leadership in his sport and not only affect the outcome of his own play, but that of his teammates, his coach and ultimately the game itself.

Email from the father of my client:

Bob, it’s great to hear from you. The basketball season is going fairly well. My son is using your methods with success, and I make sure he’s working on them. He says he constantly uses his favorite strategy, which is the ‘Hot Spot’ [a means to ensure ample adrenaline].

He tells me he has no difficulty getting in the Zone and that he uses the ‘Hot Spot’ in the locker room before the game and sometimes during timeouts to get back into the Zone before play begins. I definitely notice it when he is in the Zone, and my wife and I are in the Zone as much as we possibly can be. I will never go back to the old way of watching him compete [as a mere spectator].

There have been a few obvious times when he’s lifted the entire team and we noticed that the coach will put him back in if the team gets down. I don’t think the coach understands why that is, but we know why… 🙂

I do have one comment that is puzzling us and perhaps it’s a bit outside of our scope, but what the heck… my son’s coaches are screamers. I mean real screamers and in a mean way, and no one is exempt. They are not only demeaning, but any slightest mistake and they are screaming the kid’s name out and scolding them. It’s the worst I have seen in our career.  My son is strong, but not that strong and he is paralyzed with fear of making a mistake. He does not respond well to this type of motivation. He shuts down.

I have read much about the fear of making a mistake but this hasn’t given me a solution for my son. I have had many discussions with him about playing through this and ignoring it, but it kills him and he’s out of the Zone in an instant. To put it in perspective, when the yelling starts, he’s not just out of the Zone – he’s not even capable of thinking clearly. He will pass the ball or freeze in indecision, neither have a good outcome, and they yell and eventually pull him out. It’s a vicious cycle that has no merit.

I know that we discussed a couple of your strategies like ‘Perspective’ [a strategy in the program] that might help here, but it’s like someone pulls the plug on him when the yelling starts. He wanted to quit last week, but we talked through it and it was his decision not to quit. We have a game tomorrow and we’ll see if our discussions have made a difference, but I doubt it. I don’t feel like we’ve made any real progress.

Sorry for the long drawn out email, but I think this learning goes well beyond basketball and I want to use this for other sports. Clearly, yelling pulls him out of the Zone–it’s a distraction, albeit severe. We have to learn to deal with these significant distractions. I am sure that his other sport holds some devastating distractions for us as well, and we can’t let those get to us.

We don’t want to let any learning opportunity pass us by and this is a toughie. Again, it was good to hear from you and if you have any input, I would appreciate you sharing.

~ Mark [Client’s father]

My response to Mark

Hi Mark, (via Blackberry),

Without actually working with your son on this, here is my best shot at advice, as even the pros have a difficult time with it.

My suggestion is to have your son think of his coach as just one more opponent to defeat. Were the opposing coach to scream at him he’d probably relish it as a sign of excellent play.  As well, have him set a leadership goal of helping his teammates through it. It is a lot of maturity to ask of a 14 year old but I believe he can do it. The Mind Coach strategy in our program [a leadership exercise] works well with this. Give it a try.

And congratulations on the role you and your wife are playing. It’s huge in his life right now. Please keep me abreast of the situation.

Sincerely Bob.

Email response from Mark

Bob, great advice! I didn’t get this in time to talk to my son about it. I had him read your response after the game last night. He read it, looked over at me, and smiled really big like it clicked with him. He thought that was awesome and I am certain he will use the opponent mindset next game. I will review the Mind Coach [exercise] tonight and discuss with him as well.

Last night’s game was also amazing. My son started the first quarter and was really in the Zone and firing away. He was very much on his game and his ‘zoning’ was contagious. The entire team started out, full of energy and the team seemed to be clicking. It was a great thing to watch. There was no yelling at this point.

The second quarter came, and we were up by many points so the coach sat my son out and put in another player to start the quarter. It was like someone flipped a light switch. This squad’s performance was completely opposite of the first quarter. They looked like they were zombies, slow and not really working at it. Amazing! Same squad, minus my son.

Third quarter comes and my son is back in and he is just commanding the team without saying anything. The spark was back and the team reflected his play. A couple of the kids were really stepping up their game and scoring several points, making good plays and overall having a great game. The coach only yelled twice at my son. I noticed for about a minute after, he seemed more cautious, but quickly moved on and was back to himself.

Thanks again Bob for the great feedback and taking the time to support my son!

Sincerely, Mark

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About Bob Palmer

I'm Bob Palmer, CEO of SportExcel and a high performance expert in sport. For the past 20 years I've trained athletes, coaches, CEO's and parents on six continents, in a high performance system test-driven by champions that supercharges their game and teaches them how to win in just seven weeks. From kids as young as ten to seniors in their 70's, my six-step system has gotten incredible results at all levels of competition where many have achieved podium success in the Olympic, Commonwealth, Pan Am, and X Games, as well as in many developmental, collegiate and recreational sports. "With the SportExcel System you learn how to win, take leadership of your sport and get the fun back. In just seven weeks you'll learn the Zone, build consistency, create life-long momentum, acquire sport-specific skills quickly and take decisive leadership of your sport. And, after every training session, you’ll be asked one question: How will you play now? And your answer had better be “fantastic” or I haven't done my job - satisfaction guaranteed." Bob Palmer, B.E.S., B.Ed. CEO, SportExcel Inc.
This entry was posted in Athletes, Basketball, Coaches, Difficult Coaches, High Performance, Leadership, The Zone and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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