Most things are outside an athlete’s control. Many, if not most, young athletes are not even old enough to drive, so they cannot even control whether they arrive for workouts on time. However, they CAN control how they react to something outside their control, such as their mom dropping them off late. An athlete could come in with a negative attitude and blame their mom, traffic, the stupid dog, or other outside influence for being late – or they could arrive, jump in with the group, not make a big deal about it, and finish up at the end what they missed at the beginning.
The coach is also responsible for controlling how he reacts to a late player. He sets the tone for how he the athlete should react. If he makes a big deal about it, punishing the kid with extra exercises and further embarrassing her in front of her friends, he has created a negative atmosphere. The athlete will probably react by feeling the need to blame and make excuses. If the coach invites the athlete to jump in with the rest of the group and continues with the program, he empowers the athlete to let go of the upsetting circumstance and concentrate on the task at hand. If the lateness is habitual, the coach might decide to talk with the athlete and the parent privately to see what will help get her to workouts on time. Usually it ends up being a simple fix.
Learning to control what one can, to accept what one can’t, and to tell the difference between the two is a vital part of growing up. A young person will often say that some circumstance or other person “made me mad” and justify a negative response. While you can’t control all circumstances and shouldn’t control other people, you can control how you think about them, how you feel about them, and how you respond to them. Not being chosen for a desired position, for example, or not winning an important game can be an opportunity for sulking and self-pity, or it can be an opportunity for refocusing attention on the goal setting process and becoming better. The gym should be a culture where athletes are encouraged to learn how to make the right choice.
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