Before covid hit in January 2020 which seems so long ago now, a football player and I connected because he was at a cross roads.
He was playing in the lower leagues and was thinking about giving it all up. Here’s what he said:-
“My frustrations are the management staff not explaining why i’m not playing, bad man management, not making individuals more confident or not giving advice on how we can improve and generally not saying a word to a player but only a few key players.
A thought that distracts me every now and then thinking “am i wasting my time here”? Being a player that moved back to the UK just for this opportunity.”
He was down and wanted to make a decision.
Although he loved the game of football he felt he wasn’t valued or understood by the manager which left him feeling uncertain and unsure about the value he brought to his team but also in his self worth.
Football was his passion and because his self worth was low, he felt part of his identity was missing, leaving him confused.
I know from playing and coaching experience what the relationship between a player and coach should be. It should be one of openness, integrity and mutual respect where both can bring some value to the relationship.
But some coaches aren’t aware of this and some players aren’t aware of this either which means when there’s something wrong, there’s a tendency to skip over the issue and hope things work out.
But this player was ready to give up and our conversation was the last resort.
From listening to him in depth, I explained in depth the relationship between player and manager and told him, through nobody’s fault, there was simply a gap in communication filled with assumptions from both sides. The player assumes one thing and the manager assumes something else and when you assume, there’s a good chance you’re wrong.
When you assume you make an ASSume out of assUme and assuME.
So I came up with a simple sentence for him to ask his manager.
The purpose of this sentence was to remove his limiting beliefs around what was possible and to remove his mistaken belief that the coach didn’t see him of any value, and help the player gain clarity but also allow the coach to understand his perspective.
Before I tell you the sentence, let me tell you what happened.
After a couple of false starts due to nerves getting the better of him, he managed to speak with the manager which released his frustrations quickly. He felt energised and his self-worth improved almost immediately. The coach’s perspective changed and a new line of communication was opened.
The love for the game was restored!
Sometimes we can hold in our thoughts through fear of being rejected or criticised and when we do that, the anxiety just grows and grows until the only solution we see is to get out of there.
But when you learn you have a choice and you can take back control quickly, things, like they did with this football player, can turn around quickly.
The sentence he used was
“What I can do differently to help the team?”
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