You know you have the work ethic.
You know you have the potential to be a contributor on your team.
You see other athletes who work nowhere near as hard as you, but coach stays patting them on the ass.
Your coach doesn’t take you seriously. He looks right by you and seems to always criticize you before sharing any positive reinforcement.
You have thought about quitting. A sport that you were once passionate about is now void of any passion, and you dread going to practices, and hate the game because you barely get any playing time. It’s embarrassing.
I personally understand your situation. It is a roller coaster of emotion that can leave you so drained, it’s borderline depressing.
BUT, while some of these things are out of your control, here are a few things that you can do to prevent discouragement, boost your own self-esteem, and help you to improve as a player AND person.
1.) Focus on what you CAN control
Who the coach decides to make his favorite, or how his politically driven coaching system operates is not immediately in your control. It sucks, yes it does. But if you make a mental shift, and view it as an opportunity to work harder, then instantly you change the outcome of your emotion.
When you fret and dwell on things that are out of your immediate control, it’s like running in quicksand.
When you set foot onto the practice field, or the basketball court, lacrosse field etc, make it a point to get better at ONE aspect of your game every single time. No one can affect that process but you.
Regardless of whether you get time in with the “ones”, you still got better. Imagine doing this for a 3 month long season, 30 days in a month, you can potentially be 90x better than you were at the beginning.
Believe me when I tell you that others will take notice.
Control what YOU can control.
2.) Try to get Feedback
This one might put you in an uncomfortable position and may take a little bit of time to build up to, but I strongly recommend it.
Approach your coach one day after practice or pull him or her aside and ask if they have just 5 minutes to meet with you.
When you meet with them, ask them this:
“Coach, what specifically do I need to do to get an opportunity to prove myself on the field?”
This is a straight shot question that will force the coach to be as direct as possible.
This question is powerful. Essentially what you are doing is asking for your coach’s advice to give you your opportunity. If he intentionally gives you instruction on what do to, but still does not give you your opportunity, then he has to come to terms with the fact that he is dishonest. He told you what to do, and still didn’t give you your shot.
I don’t care how untrustworthy a coach is, from outside looking in, they never want to look like a flat liar IN FRONT of others.
When you ask this question, he may say, “Just keep working hard, and be patient.” Something along those lines. And hey, if this is really the case, sometimes you DO just have to be patient. However, if you feel like the coach is blowing you off, then ask a follow up question:
“Thanks coach. Can you be more specific. What’s one thing that I should work on to increase my shot?”
Here they should literally tell you what it is, and you work at it with insane focus to improve.
Again, it might take a little courage to approach your coach with this question, but any feedback you can get to streamline your improvement and chance of getting on the field is huge.
3.) Get A Strong Support System
This is probably one of the most important aspects of this journey to understand.
Have someone in your corner who encourages you and understands what you are going through. That may be family, another teammate, or even an assistant coach on the team who recognizes what you can do, but does not have the power to make the change.
Get with them.
They will be the ones who will keep you up when you are at your lowest. They will also help keep you accountable.
Don’t go it alone.
There will be times you will feel like you are on a lonely island. Having a strong support system is key in keeping you moving forward.
If it weren’t for my best friend in high school, who is to this day my best friend, I would not have gotten through it.
It’s not the easiest thing to go through, but if you trust in and follow these 3 steps, the journey will not only bring you closer to opportunity, but will make you an incredibly stronger, more perseverant person in the end.