I often find myself in conversations with athletes and parents where their frustrations and expectations have somewhat replaced truth and reality. Our world has undergone so many changes to how we function every day, many of which impact how we see ourselves, how fast we want things, and the road to the goals we set. It is super easy these days to see instant gratification in the lives of others through social media and sometimes in the actions of our own lives. And that sometimes gets translated to how an athlete or parent, and sometimes coach, can view growth, progress and improvement in a player or team.
Believe me when I tell you every coach wants and wishes there was a switch to trigger growth and skill acquisition in an individual and more importantly within a team, but there isn’t. Growth and improvement in a team or in a player takes time and more importantly intentional work. In managing my own frustrations as a coach in this area I often come back to a piece of advise I was given by a mentor of mine; Dave Rubio.
He once told me; “Coach the athletes you have - not the ones you wish they were.”
To me this has come to mean; discover where each athlete is in their ability to play and manage the game in this moment and design a plan of growth to work towards over the course of each season (for each player and the team as a whole). This is important both to individuals and to growth as a team, if a team or athlete is holding onto what they believe should be happening or worse what they deserve; they will struggle to own their role they will always have a season filled with frustration and limited growth and success. Growth will take the amount of time it takes, being more aware of the things each of us can control is a better road to growth and success then looking too closely at the outcomes.
It is easy to become accustomed to the dramatic growth of the younger age groups, things are easier to see when it comes to change; suddenly they can all serve over or attack the ball, they get better and better at passing and defense and it starts to look like the game we all love. Then as players get older the changes are different, subtler but none the less dramatic if you know what to look for, a better understanding of the game, a stronger focus on the opponents side of play and the ability to adjust and adapt during a match while using all the physical skills they have been diligently learning over the years.
One of the things that brought me into Elevation Volleyball was the idea of a gym working actively towards “Process Over Outcome.” In my experience I have seen programs grow overnight by making a conscious effort to shift to this kind of thinking and I have come to see the absolute freedom an athlete can learn to train under if they are focused on the work, trusting the process, being 100% open to the coach they have, and knowing that every coach has a lesson of value for an athlete. It just may not be the one you or the story in your head is telling you. But again that is not the reality, the reality is often hard to take, but we are where each of us are and being willing & able to adapt to adversity, struggle or a busting of expectations is all a part of the life lesson sports brings us all.
We at EVC do not seek to be a chore or burden in the lives of our family of athletes, we work to become a family of shared goals and experiences. With a commitment to the work, process and growth each year can build on the next all while building on something bigger then ourselves.
As we get started with Power Season and things start to get hectic I would ask that each of us, each member of this Elevation Family, remember that we work towards “Process Over Outcome.” Every tiny little part of our path this season is something we can learn from, so keep away from absolute thinking, and using the word “should”. Try instead to look actively for the lesson, be open, and look for how an athlete can grow from each experience and still keep the team and its path in the front of their mind.
None of us are in this alone, we are coaches & athletes & families all part of one program - a family, that will make mistakes, struggle and even fail on the road to all the successes we will celebrate.
Lastly remember that winning is an outcome, without a true commitment to the process winning is short lived and empty, if it happens at all. The celebration of successes both big and small by a team, and by our Elevation family will drive growth, and enjoyment from each experience no matter the work it took to accomplish.
These are the only things we have 100% control of:
Good luck to everyone.