Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. —
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Each contest we’re involved in as coaches is filled with missed opportunities, errors, and mistakes. In some games, like volleyball, basketball, softball, and baseball, we have only a few seconds to respond to shortcomings or errors. In other sports like football, golf, and track and field, response time may be longer. Regardless of the seconds or minutes that tick away, our reactions to our players’ mistakes are critical, not only for their confidence but often for the outcome of the game.
That’s why responding to an athlete’s failures can be one of our greatest challenges. Whether in a crucial moment in the game or off the court or field, how we respond can empower or tear down an athlete. Throughout practices, games, and other interactions with student athletes, our goal should be to plant seeds of success that clearly demonstrate our belief in them. Our choice of words, the timing of those words, and the manner in which we convey them have a powerful impact on their lives.
So if we are clear in our communication, constructive in our comments, and direct in our feedback, expressing both personal compassion and a passion for excellence in the process, we can help take our athletes to a higher level. As we help them look forward to the next opportunity instead of dwelling on their shortcomings, we’ll reflect to them a portion of the mercy we have all received as Christians. God demonstrated to us the ultimate response to mistakes, or sin, in the person of Jesus Christ, and He empowers us to do the same. Though we sin and fall short of His expectations, His mercy and love offered through Jesus’ death and resurrection provides a new opportunity for each day as well as for eternity!
1. When it comes to responding to mistakes, what situations challenge you the most?
2. How did Christ confront and respond to His disciples’ mistakes?
3. What are some strategies we can follow that will instill confidence and empower athletes to excel?
Extra Reading: John 11:1–16; 21:15–19; Mark 11:21
Thank You, God, for the love and compassion You show me when I fall short of Your expectations. Help me to inspire those I interact with to be what You know they could be. Amen.