One of the great things about coaching college kids is they usually bring you back. They are at that age where they think they are Superman, where nothing really bothers them, they can do know wrong. So often after we’ve lost a tough game and I’ve felt terrible, I get back in the gym and the attitude of my players picks me up. They never feel as bad as you do after a tough loss – it’s your life, to them it’s still just a game – and whether it’s false bravado just a youthful attitude, they usually bounce right back.
A tough balance to find is how much you want of that positive attitude when you are losing. It’s always best not to overreact emotionally to bad losses or a losing streak, so generally the positive attitude is a good thing. But sooner or later you need to see some dissatisfaction with the way things are going. At some point it’s not just ok to lose and be comfortable with it. You want to see that it matters, that it bothers your guys when things aren’t going well.
It’s hard to ever say you don’t want a positive attitude at practice. But there is a way to maintain a positive attitude without accepting what is happening, and doing everything you can to change it. The balance between those two things is really hard to find.
You can maintain a positive attitude while turning up the heat , setting the bar high for your team and maintaining a high level of intensity. You want your kids to bring the right attitude to practice but also understand what you are doing is not acceptable. You can still have fun while demanding more out of your team.
Positive, demanding and unacceptable. It might seem hard to incorporate those three things into your practices, and it is. But it’s not impossible. It’s your job to make sure you hold your team accountable for what is unacceptable, but still recognizing the positive things that they are doing.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. When your kids show up with the right attitude every day, don’t make them feel bad about it. It’s a positive that they think everything is going to be alright. Your job is to take advantage of that while making it clear that a lot of what is being done is unacceptable. If you’ve build up trust with your team, it certainly comes a lot easier.
The positive approach is a good thing, but it can come at the price of doing what needs to be done to change things. Being positive doesn’t mean that your guys should accept what’s not acceptable.