Yesterday I had a young lady time trial a race at practice. She failed.
Immediately after hearing she didn’t get the time she put her head down, started to cry, and wouldn’t talk to anyone.
After about 2 minutes of watching teammates and coaches tell her things like:
“It’s not that bad!”
“You’ll get it next time”
“At least you tried your hardest”
I walked up to her and said: “You have 4 more minutes to be disappointed, then we are continuing practice”
Let me explain.
Have you ever had a swimmer have a bad race and the rest of the week is in the gutter? Maybe they threw such a big pity party that it was even awkward for teammates to be around them. I’ll tell you from experience if you don’t learn how to limit disappointment at practice, you won’t be able to do it at meets.
At the end of the 4 minutes I followed up with her. It’s ok to be disappointed and I love that she cared so much. But we still have work to do, and if you want to get the time you need to do the work. It was a good talk, by the end of practice she was smiling and working hard.
Another key point in this story is creating situations where disappointment is possible. Everything can’t be easy. Create a goal worth achieving. Put them in situations where they can lose.
Then I followed up with my assistant coaches. Lessons learned all around. The swimmer I’m talking about is far from the final product of limiting disappointment, but it was a good start.