A Coaches Greatest Heartache

Photo Credit: Austin Distel

Some kids are born to be great runners and it is very obvious that running is their God-given gift and best sport. However, a family member, educator, or peer convinces the person not to try running or quit for various reasons.

It is very frustrating to see all that potential go down the drain and for the child to possibly miss what they were wired to do. However, you have to let the loss go and work with who is in front of you.

I admit it, I don’t always handle this issue well. If you are a coach, you are predisposed to see the potential in others, it’s how we are wired. It’s hard to see all that potential go down the drain.

The greatest pain at least for me is seeing all the potential in another human being and not being able to help him or her reach their potential. I have to use every tool at my disposal to get over the feeling of not being able to help a person when I know they have what it takes to do great things in life.

You know you were meant to coach when you truly want to help someone reach their potential and you are not allowed to help them for whatever reason.

Sometimes you see a young person walking in the hall whose life could change for the better if they would give this running thing a try. For whatever reason, they refuse to give running a chance. You may reach the young person by being persistent and respectful, but at some point, you have to let it go if they don't respond. 

Years later, you may run into that person on the street and they say, “I wish I had given that running thing a try back in my high school days”.  And, by the way, I’ve heard this regret story several times. Be prepared to give a gracious response.

Next, you have the person who is with you for a while but they decide to quit right at the threshold of their potential due to some sort of emotional response. Almost without exception, they regret their decision to quit, years later.

Finally, at the college or pro level you may have an athlete who for whatever reason thinks the grass is greener to train somewhere else until they jump the fence—by then it is too late. Coming back rarely if ever works for either party. The trust is already broken.

How do you handle the disappointment of those people who ignore your offer of help? That is the million-dollar question. This type of disappointment one of the biggest sources of coaching pain. 

The starting point of healing is to acknowledge your pain or frustration. You can't change what you don't acknowledge.  Accept that there is a loss going on here. 

Then, release the idea that you can reach and help every person. You can’t. Sometimes you as a coach may not be the best fit for the athletes personality or their goals.              

Find people right in front of you who truly want your help. Work with the people you’ve been given and make them champions! Throw yourself into helping others who need and want your help.

Said another way, focus on the people who value what you bring to the table. Some people truly don't value what you have to offer them for various reasons. Accept this fact and move on.

Always be truly grateful for the people who do value you’re coaching. Go find people to help that you can influence for the better, now. Stop crying over spilled milk as they say. 

Respectfully, and without malice, say goodbye to the person who does not want your help and give everything you’ve got to the people under your care. Pray for the person you could not reach and then let them go. 

Everyone has a free will. Do your best to reach out to people you want to help. However, accept each person’s choices as well whether you agree with them or not.                                                                                                                                    The coaches prayer is the Serenity Prayer:

“God grant me the things I cannot change; Courage the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

No truer words were spoken. Change it if you can, let it go if you must.

Copyright Larry Weber 2020

Picture Credit: Adi Goldstein