Expectations: Yours and “Theirs”

May
30

Posted by Coach Mark Turner

As fellow MPI Senior Coach Amanda Liebovitz often reminds us, how we think is just as important as how we train. The mind is a powerful engine for achievement but only if it is focused and healthy. Negative self-talk is an enemy of many athletes. Many times this is due to the high standards that endurance athletes often set for themselves but sometimes it is rooted in an unhealthy self-image. What we think and believe about ourselves can be greatly impacted by many forces.  Aside from negative self-talk we must also recognize that we live in a culture that is often less than encouraging. The briefest review of social media reveals very quickly how many voices have embraced the role of critic, sometimes cruelly so, instead of encourager.

In like manner, often athletes are faced with not only overcoming their own doubts, fears, and self-criticism but the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, imposition of the low expectations of others. The low expectations of others can be just as insidious as explicit criticism or even the athlete's own tendency toward negative self-talk. The climate of low expectations is created in many ways, sometimes even in the guise of praise. For real success athletes should treat the low expectations of others as just what they are: the often ill thought-through opinions of others.

When we set aside and refuse to accept the low expectations of others we become free to map our own preferred future. When that happens great things become possible.

In 2007 I was on the coaching staff of the Clear Lake 5-6 Grade Boys Lacrosse Team. In the years previous to this, the teams had often had very bad years. In fact some of the boys from the previous year started the 2007 season with the attitude that their team just wasn't a winner. They accepted the low expectations of others and those low expectations became their own. But in 2007 it was a new coaching staff and we brought the view that if we practiced like we wanted to play, and we played one play at a time, with discipline we could turn the program around.

Our first step was changing not only what the boys thought but what their parents and friends thought and expected as well. We expected to win not just show up and we wanted the same for the boys on the team.

The season unfolded with the best record the team had ever had and the boys went into the end of year tournament with cautious optimism. Our biggest rivals, the host team for the tournament, was responsible for purchasing the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies. As the tournament favorites, they did so knowing they would emerge as the victors in the tournament and be crowned the champions. They had defeated us during the regular season and expected us to lose again. We didn't. Instead our boys won the tournament - defeating our hosts and rivals by 1 goal.

 

The final moments of the game

 

When the trophies were brought out for the award ceremony, to the delight of our team and their families, the 4 foot high 1st place trophy was awarded to our boys while the 12 inch high (maybe) 2nd place trophy was awarded to our hosts.

 

The winning team! (Coach MarkT to the right of the trophy)

 

This was a teachable moment for our boys. If they had allowed themselves to accept the low expectations of our hosts and rivals victory would have been out of reach. Instead they refused to accept the low expectations of others, demanded the best of themselves instead, and played one game and one play at a time. They shut out the noise and listened to their own hearts (and sometimes their coaches) and played the best game of their lives.

What the boys and their families learned is that when we ignore “their” - whoever “their” happens to be - low expectations of us, big things happen. Lives are changed. The pursuit of excellence becomes possible and victory is the result.

 

happy parents with the trophy!

 


 

Coach Mark Turner is an IRONMAN Certified Coach, USAT Level I Certified Coach, USMS Level I & II Certified Coach, USAT Cat 3 Official and USAT Elite Rules Official. He is also an Assistant RD for the Sylvan Beach Triathlon. Mark is a US Veteran who served with the United States Marine Corps. He joined the Team MPI Coaching Staff in 2015. "For me, endurance sports coaching is all about building relationships between me and the athletes I coach, as well as with my fellow coaches. I believe that working in a collaborative environment of like-minded people lays the best foundation for deep success. There is nothing more rewarding as a coach than to know that you have helped both your team and your athletes reach their greatest potential." Contact Coach MarkT at markt@teamMPI.com

 

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