The “F” Word (no, not that one)

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If there’s anything I’ve learned as a coach, it’s that plenty of “F” words possess the ability to derail our players, our team, and our entire program. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the 10 words I’ve listed below. 

Failure

Fatigue

Flakey

Flaws

Foolishness

Forgetfulness

Fouls

Fragile

Frantic

Frustration

While each of these words has the potential to ruin your season, I want to talk about a different “F” word right now. This “F” word has the greatest chance to negatively affect your team if you fail to be proactive about it. 

Today let’s talk about FEAR.

This F word has shown up a lot in my career, and I know it shows up a lot in the daily lives of the players that we coach. I think early on in my career I might have coached a little bit out of fear and that fear projected onto my players.

Any player that struggles with fear will face limitations on a daily basis and will have a difficult time ever truly maximizing their game.

Instead of letting fear take charge of your coaching or the players you coach, I’ve learned that there are a couple of specific things that we can do to help put fear into proper perspective. 

First, and most importantly, we must understand that none of us are going to be absent of fear in our lives. Whether it’s the fear of underachieving, the fear of making mistakes, or the fear of doing our best and still falling short; fear is going to be a part of what we do.

What really matters is what we do with fear once we’re aware of it. While most people flee from fear in their lives, I’d challenge you to do something different.

My challenge is to stop fleeing from fear, and instead, choose to lean into it.

As coaches, we can make fear acceptable in our program by actually acknowledging it with our players.

We know fear is going to be present during the season.

We know it’s going to be a part of any endeavor that we’re on if we’ve built a special team with a special culture.

And while fear isn’t always easy to deal with, the best thing I’ve learned that we can do is to accept it as a part of the process of becoming great. 

If you can tell your players that you’re willing to accept the idea of fear (as a coach and them as players) and model what it looks like to lean into it, that’s when you’re truly creating an environment where players are able to learn to overcome their fears. 

I hope this approach to fear helps you as much as it’s helped me over the years.

Find some time this week and take stock of the role fear currently plays in your program and how you can dominate fear in a better and more direct way.

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