The Importance of Attitude in Sports Performance
By Allistair McCaw
Bad attitude athletes are like rotten apples. The actions you take as a coach say a lot about the standards you uphold:
A few coaches and parents get upset when I tell them it’s not my responsibility to bring my athlete’s effort, that’s on the athlete. Attitude is another thing that’s on the athlete. Bring these two things and I will provide the motivation and tools you need to succeed.
Coaches, let me ask you this: Do you expect your athletes to come to practice with a positive attitude in sports? If they don’t, is it your job to coach them into having one?
Most people will agree that successful coaches inspire and motivate their athletes. But we have all experienced the kid/s that come to practice with a poor attitude and low effort level. Is it your job as a coach to change that? And if so, how long do you put up with it until enough is enough.
You see, as coaches we have this ‘unwritten’ task of being “attitude changers” as well as X & O coaches.
Well, here’s some news for all you athletes out there: You have the freedom to choose and decide the attitude you want. But don’t expect to be chosen for the team (or a decent college or a great job) when that attitude is a poor one.
Coaches, allowing bad attitudes and negative behavior in your program only sends out one message: “We accept your poor behavior and attitude”.
What that does, is sends out a signal of disrespect and weakness in the leadership and to the rest of the team. The persistent negativity of an athlete or athletes begins to drain the energy and morale of those who come to work with effort and discipline. Here’s what I also believe: If you, the athlete, truly care about your program, then YOU won’t accept bad attitudes from fellow athletes. Why should it always be the coaches task? Who’s athletic career or future is it? Do we all experience tough times, bad days and obstacles as athletes? – absolutely. But attitude is something that can be controlled. Do I expect a world-class performance every time my athletes step onto the court, field or into the gym to work with me or the team? – No. But, what I do expect is a good effort and positive attitude.
When an athlete has a persistent bad attitude, ‘feel sorry for me’ and negative attitude – I have zero time for that in my program. In fact, I’ve kicked out a ‘star’ athlete out of my program many a time. Do they get another chance? – Sometimes, maybe one more, but that’s it. Try it again and your are on your way.
As coaches, we need to communicate, support, motivate and encourage our athletes through the rough times, but something that requires a little more of a firm stance is the eradication of the bad attitude virus. Remember that it takes just one rotten apple to spoil the fruit bowl eventually.
Allowing bad attitudes and negative behavior out of fear of ‘losing’ an athlete or player from your program is the biggest mistake you can make. In fact, getting rid of a bad apple/s will eventually attract the multitude of good apples you desire and aspire to have. The thing is that we need to expect a positive attitude and great effort – all the time! Don’t negotiate for it. Don’t apologize for it. Expect it. Am I backing out of my duty as a coach by not fixing a bad attitude? Not at all, I have already made my message clear how it works around here:Bring your best effort and attitude – that’s all. Bring a bad attitude and effort to your match, what do you get? Yep, sent home with an “L’ (lose). That’s a life right lesson there. Here’s another one. Walk into a multi-million dollar business or one of Donald’s Trump’s companies with a bad attitude and see how long you last. Set the standards from day 1, make it clear to the athletes and staff what those standards are. Make no apologies for high standards.