In the USA, 85% of young athletes will quit their sport by age 14. In many cases, we are talking about players who were at one time completely in love with their game. How sad! What are we doing that destroys kids’ passion & what can we do better?
That question came up in a phone call I had with Hall of Fame Baseball Coach, Keith Madison. Keith coached at University of Kentucky for 25 years. We were recording our call for the Mental Game All-Star Summit, but after we stopped recording, we just kept talking. We talked about seeing kids who used to embody baseball passion, who now hate the game. Most pointed to a certain kind of coaching style & culture as the reason for quitting.
“Oh that breaks my heart. I hate to see it!” Keith said in his Kentucky way. “I wish coaches could understand, we burn players out when we use shame, sarcasm & anger. Of course you gotta be tough, but sarcasm is usually just destructive.”
He went on to say,
“Any time I share at a banquet or something, I let the coaches, parents & athletes know a guaranteed way to turn their team around and create a winning culture. It’s pretty unconventional.”
Now I was aching with curiosity…
“Really, WHAT?” I asked.
“Well…” he went on,
“I won’t pretend to totally understand this, but everything will change if the coaches will pray every day for players, if the players will pray for the coaches, and if the parents will pray too. I don’t even care if it’s a secular program where people aren’t used to praying!”
Oh boy. That seemed like a pretty tall order. Every day?
Keith continued, “Somehow prayer changes the way we see people.”
Ah PERCEPTION! When we change the way we see people, the people we see change.
Keith went on to tell me about a teacher who had miserable results in his high school classroom and was ready to quit. This teacher saw a remarkable football coach who told him this pray-for-the-players concept. Well, the teacher could not deny the football coach’s level of rapport with his players, but he didn’t think it would work in his classroom.
One day after school however, this exhausted teacher plopped down at one of his student’s desk. Then it dawned on him to say a prayer for the girl who normally sat there. The next day he did the same thing at another desk and so on, until he’d prayed at each desk. Apparently this made a difference because 3 short years later, this formerly frustrated teacher was named National Teacher of the Year and received an award for his impact.
As I laughed with Coach Madison, he perked up,
“Hey, let’s pray right now…”
And we did. We prayed for coaches, players & parents who have so much more impact than they know.
So there you go.
If you could hop on the phone with a top-caliber coach, would you act on his advice? I’m just a mental coach, but I’m upping my game here, for sure. If you’re reading this, I’ve already prayed for you!
Have you ever seen prayer turn things around and renew your passion? Let me know in the comments.
In your corner,
P.S. If this all sounds way too soft for you, dig in. We have plenty of mental-toughness training coming up. Click on the photo below to learn more.
Gina Parris is a speaker & a performance coach for the Competitive Soul. Throughout the past 30 years, Gina has helped thousands of people WIN their game & LOVE their life on and off the playing field. She specializes in turning your stress into your strength.