It’s such a common conversation that in each instance, I really need to work to not get fired up. A player (or a parent) will complain to me about the fact that their coach is not playing them for __insert reason here____. Usually it is some combination of “playing favorites” or “doesn’t know what he/she is doing”. The reason why these conversations are so difficult is that the player almost invariably refuses to see that they are choosing the bench. That sentence and the title of this post must sound ridiculous but I’ll do my best to make my argument for its accuracy.
The player who is complaining about playing time is almost always ignoring the fact that they have control over the key component to their PT, themselves. When people don’t get what they want, the easiest thing to do is blame someone else or circumstances. While this is the easiest thing to do, it rarely has positive results. In these situations of complaint, I usually direct the player’s attention to how much extra time they’re putting into their skills, fitness, tactical awareness, relationship with key players, etc. Upon asking about these things, I usually get a blank stare or a halfhearted explanation of their “extra” work.
In all of my years of playing and coaching, I’ve never met a coach who kept talent on the bench without a reason. Therefore the equation of playing time becomes quite a simple one. GET SO GOOD THAT YOU CAN’T BE IGNORED! The truth of most of these situations is that the player only wants to do enough to get what they want. They do not truly want the playing time because if they did, they’d be doing all of the work to get it and a ton extra. The obstacle of the coach is just an excuse for them not to do the work.
“Thumbs before fingers!” has been a mantra of mine for years. It simply states that you need to acknowledge your contribution to any challenge before you blame someone else. By seeing your faults first, you have the power to change them. If you ignore the fact that you have any fault, you become powerless. You are completely at the mercy of the person or situation. So I implore you! Don’t put yourself on the bench! Become so good that you can’t be ignored! Give so much effort that the coach has to feel guilty about taking you off the field! Then other people can talk about you being “the coach’s favorite” but you’ll know the truth of how hard you worked to get there.
Unless you are brought to the hospital in an ambulance, the first place that you visit is triage. It’s the station where the severity of your injury or illness is determined in order to prioritize treatment. Broken bones take precedent over upset stomachs and so on. People who can wait, often do, for long periods of time in the waiting room. However no one stays in triage for very long. Once your situation is determined, it is time to move on to get the help that you need or wait your turn. Triage is not an outcome!
This is so apparent when dealing with a medical emergency. No one would forego seeing the doctor so that they could stay with the triage nurse longer to describe their situation. However when it comes to our lives, many of us seem to desire eternal triage. Describing the horrible situation that we are in with excruciating detail to friends, family, classmates, coworkers and even strangers. Rather than doing something about the situation that we lament, we pile on more and more description. The unfortunate thing is that many people seem to want to turn their paper-cut into a shotgun wound. This situation is at the forefront today because it is Monday. A day that many people dread because it is just too far away from the weekend. Does this day carry with it any particular issue? No, it is just the story that we’ve made up in our heads.
So here we are at the door to the emergency room. What are you going to do today? Spend the entire day describing your issues to the triage nurse in order to make your headache seem like a stroke. Or check yourself for bullet holes and if you need real help, go get it. Or most likely, you can handle this on your own/with the help of those close to you. Describing the problem with more clarity is rarely the answer. Moving forward takes action, no matter how small. Clawing your way toward a destination is far better than hoping it will be attracted by the sound of your complaints!
Some people get very offended by particular four letter words. Others use them so much that they cease to have any power whatsoever. Despite their semi-taboo nature, the things that they represent are quite common place. The teeth of the matter can be taken out by substituting a word. It’s the word that makes it vulgar and repellent.
By contrast, the word “DO” has almost no connotation whatsoever. It shows up in so many contexts that its meaning is somewhat of an afterthought. When it’s not holding up space at the beginning of a question, do implies some form of action. Therein lies the problem with this seemingly insignificant word. People are not afraid of the word, they’re afraid of what it represents. ACTION that will take them out of their comfort zone or cause them to face their inadequacies. Do may only have half the characters of the four letter words but it has ten times the bite. People are paralyzed by their do’s.
So just like the foul mouthed people who drop the F bomb way too much, the key to reducing the potency of something is to increase the frequency. DO until you’re not afraid to do anymore. Give it a shot! Try! (That’s right Yoda, I said TRY! Go F#%$ yourself.) Succeeding/Failing do not matter anywhere near as much as the feeling that you have about who you are when you unshackle yourself from fear.
Life can often feel a lot like walking a dog. You’re getting pulled forward by a force that you only partially control. All the while, you’re carrying bag of crap that you’ve picked up along the way. If you don’t ever look up and enjoy the scenery, this can feel like a huge chore. However if you’re able keep what you’re doing in perspective, it can be a truly enjoyable way to pass the time.