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Remaining Upbeat

Coaching a struggling team can be a challenge. Losses can weigh heavily on you and your student-athletes. But there are ways to avoid letting a poor star to a season become disheartening. In this blog on, Lubbock (Texas) High School Football Head Coach Jason Strunk talks about the difficulties his squad has faced during their current season, and how he’s kept the spirits of his players and his staff up:

Show confidence: Even when you’re struggling, you need to project a feeling of confidence to your assistant coaches and players. They’ll feed off your positivity. In his team’s most recent game, Strunk made a decision to go for it on 4th-and-3 during a tied game, and although the decision did not work out, he does not regret it:

“I will make that same decision again when faced with it,” he wrote. “I have no second guessing going on in my mind. Not one bit. I have faith in my guys. Faith in my coaches.  I showed a tremendous amount of confidence in the players and coaches with the game on the line.  It didn’t work out this time, but our time is coming.”

Focus your players on what you can control: You don’t always have control of a game’s result. But you can influence your players’ attitudes by telling them to focus on their own dedication to getting better. Focus first about the effort your team puts forth before becoming discouraged over results.

“Our mantra this season is to play and practice with attitude and effort,” Strunk wrote.  “Nobody can ever take that away from us.  We control “we”.  Four games into this season, the attitude and effort is right where it needs to be.”

Don’t let outsiders influence your squad’s attitude: Teams that struggle often face criticism from fans, even their fellow students. As Strunk writes:

“Our kids get disrespected daily. They hear all the time how bad they are. The common line is, ‘you guys suck.’  Imagine hearing that every day in your own hallways.  It is mind-numbing.

But rather than allow his players to be influenced by that mentality, Strunk encourages them to believe in the hard work they—and their teammates have put in. “My message to them on a daily basis is life isn’t fair sometimes, but you need to keep moving along,” he writes. You cannot let negativity get to you. Tune-out the noise is theme every day. We control ‘we.’ The naysayers do not suit up for practice. They do not come in on weekends. They do not matter.

Remind yourself that you’re doing a great job: You’ve got to hold your head high when times get tough. Strunk reminds himself that the strongest coaches are the ones who can persevere through losses. “There are coaches in this state, and other states, winning state titles yearly,” he writes. “They wouldn’t last a week in my chair. This is a special place and it takes a special coaching staff to persevere.”

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