A line I heard often from coaches is that the best part of student-athlete’s today is that they have such a short term memory. Coaches, on the other hand tend to live in hindsight. We should have trapped the ball-screen instead of switch everything. Or we should have played with more pace in the transition rather than slowing down at the half-court. This mentality tends to lead into how the next practice is prepared – doing additional defensive slides, incorporating more box-out drills, or re-emphasizing points that players appeared to have forgotten. Assessing previous games is inherent to the job. Learn from the mistakes and build on the strengths, however if hindsight teaches us anything it is that a coach must teach to embrace right now.
What message do you look to get across to the student-athlete bent over at the knees gasping for air when he/she has just been instructed to put their toes back on the line for another sprint? What is their mentality? Right now, they are faced with a choice to either convince themselves to finish, or to be convinced that quitting is an option. The hardest decision is the one made in the moment, often during the most adverse of situations. You are having to commit to a choice, to an opportunity, or to a potential mistake. It takes strength to make a decision. The strength to make that choice is often credited on the student-athlete’s mental toughness. Mental toughness is built similar to any other muscle in the body – habit of conditioning/training. Hindsight is a scapegoat and the optimism players want to hear, but coaches should avoid to reveal because prior results never change. Coaches have the opportunity to develop the mentally strong, so when the student-athlete confronts a decision the results will be made in the moment. Don’t fear the future and don’t live in the past, embrace the opportunity of right now.