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Coaching the Lazy Athlete

You know what’s CRAZY? This story about “lazy” athletes. It’s not what you might think…

As a youth coach, I have had several athletes come in with various labels. I look forward to having these kids come into to the door because I know often times this kid just hasn’t had a coach that is willing to get on their level and simply relate to where they are currently at.

Unfortunately, a lot of coaches (not all) have a one size fits all philosophy that brings a “my-way or the highway” mentality.

This is a major contributor to the high rate of burnout youth sports is currently exhibiting.

In sports, we have adopted an excessive desire to win that has stripped the fun out of the game. We have begun transitioning to this philosophy that once we achieve success, then we will be happy.

Coaches, parents, and the kids buy into this philosophy creating a trifecta of excess pressure that slowly begins to turn a game into a job. And that job turns into something worse…a miserable job that they no longer enjoy.

This excess pressure leaves young athletes miserable if they happen to underperform, or lose, making them less comfortable with putting in serious effort in fear of further failure.

This is where a kid becomes labeled as; “unmotivated" or “unconfident” and they begin to lack trust in their coaches.

In my experience, I have found often times that these unmotivated and unconfident athletes just need a coach that is willing to take the pressure off and allow them to get back to having fun.

A coach that is willing to get on their level, meet them where they are, and build back that trust.

Once the relationship is built, these kids will gradually begin to “buy in” and begin to go further out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves.

I have seen it happen with several athletes… they go from resenting the weight room to slowly enjoying the grind of working out.

As results come and athleticism rises… they begin to build momentum.

All of a sudden that “lazy athlete” is willing to push themselves and put in that effort that was initially a battle to pull out of them. They no longer fear failure and intuitively become more confident in their ability and work ethic. This process does not just apply to athleticism, this athlete’s confidence trickles into all facets of their life, like school and their relationships.

Just like anything else… a close relationship to the athlete is essential if you want to motivate them.

If a coach is unwilling to take the time to connect, they will use other methods to try to manipulate motivation like fear (play time, conditioning). This may work for a period of time… but will not foster trust and loyalty from the athletes and ultimately that athlete will not enjoy the process and will be more prone to becoming the negatively labeled athlete!

Coaches are meant to inspire…. And in order to truly inspire, a coach must connect with an athlete where they are at while conveying passion for their success.

This will be different for various athletes and will take more time and effort on behalf of the coach; but the delayed gratification will inevitably lead to more success for the team, the athletes, and ultimately, will lead to more successful young men and women!

The take home: spend more time, energy, and effort building deep, connected relationships with your athletes. There is no greater time investment for you or I.

Dedicated to your athlete’s success,

Coach Travis Bewley

Travis Bewley

Director of Athletic Enhancement
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