Is it really the coach?

From a lack of confidence, loss of love for the game, or an absence of motivation, each and every athlete is presented with some sort of setback within his or her sport. But what is the source of this so-called setback? What is causing this deficiency in athletes? The quick answer from many would be the coach. Many athletes are quick to play the victim and point the finger at the coach blaming him or her for the lack of any and everything within themselves. But, when this issue is analyzed, the question arises: Is it really the coach? 

Speaking as someone who time-after-time has quickly found myself playing the victim and blaming my coach for my inability to find that drive and or success in my sport, I can confidently say the simple answer is no, it is not the coach who deserves the finger pointed in his or her direction. A coach is not always to blame for the lack of success, love, or motivation an athlete finds within the game. 

Athletics is a mental world where your coach’s first priority is not to be your friend but rather to push you to fulfill the potential he or she knows you can achieve. Many athletes say the issue starts with a lack of respect and understanding from said coach. However, that is where the misconception lies. I have always interpreted the things my coaches have said to me as being targeted and or disrespectful. But, what I have failed to realize is that my coaches are here to coach in a way that they see as effective for the athlete they are coaching, and not to hold my hand and cater to my feelings. 

The player-coach relationship is one that is characterized by the effect a coach has on an athlete. Some would say that they have yet to find the coach because everyone they have played for has created a feeling of being drained and caused them to lose their love for the game. However, what if the coach is not the one causing this feeling, but rather it is the athlete’s interpretations of the coach’s actions and or words that creates this negative outlook? 

It has taken me a substantial amount of time to realize that my coaches—past and current—are not the reason for any burnout I may have been experiencing. It was me. My interpretation of my coach’s words and actions has caused me to lose my love for my favorite thing. It is not that any coach has ever been blatantly disrespectful or not understanding, it was always that I had this misconception that my coaches were there to listen to my feelings first and coach second. 

As a coach, you hold your players to the highest of standards and expectations. As a player, you think the height to which you are being held to in unreasonable and unrealistic; you think your coach’s expectations are inconsiderate towards the rest of your life. Truthfully, they are not. I have always thought that the standards and expectations my coaches have set for me were outrageous and that my inability to fulfill these expectations was slowly draining my motivation. In reality, they were not. Coaches do not hold players to unfulfillable expectations; they hold their players to the standards the players will not hold themselves to. My coaches have always seen what I never saw in myself and they held me accountable for seeing what they saw. It was not the expectations draining my motivation, for it was simply my inability to understand why that was. 

Now, I know no coach is perfect, and many are in fact far from it. But, this imperfection that they carry may not necessarily be to blame for an athlete’s lack of love, motivation, or success in his or her sport. No athlete is fully in a position to play the victim and point the finger and blaming a coach. Although it may be difficult to do, as an athlete, you have to reinterpret your coach’s doings and find the why within them, asking yourself one question: Is it really the coach?