Editor, Global Sport Management News
After a month of trying to help her once the coach finally had to remove her from the roster, I decided to take a personal approach by writing her a letter, as the topic felt too personal to discuss one-on-one. Her behavior truly shocked me after getting to know her mild mannered nature off the court. I described to her the importance of team and sport altruism, placing the care and concern for the team and the sport above one’s self concerns. In this letter, I described the sensitive nature of the impact on her fellow players. I knew she felt strong affiliation with them. Overall, my goal focused on changing her mindset from her self motivated goal to a team altruism goal. Tennis certainly represents a sport of grace and decorum. I asked her how she could gracefully show care and concern for her teammates while also pursuing her own goal with decorum.
She wrote back to me in an apologetic way. Her behavior on court was fueled by worry of disappointing her family. She mentioned her scholarship and fear of losing the financial support. Her family could not afford her college tuition. This problem originated from her deep personal family values. She fought for her family during each match, and she wanted to show the coach her passion and intensity to be her best.
I decided to first gracefully address her misperception about how best to approach her performance on the court. The fighting and combative behavior would not help accomplish her goal. Coaches want players who positively represent the team. A team mentality is extremely important for success. Second, I addressed the impact she had on all people surrounding her. So many people including her family, coaches, and teammates supported her development. Her behavior worried rather than helped them. I asked her to empathetically place herself in their position. How would she feel if she witnessed that type of behavior from a loved one? Lastly, I asked her to think about what type of legacy she would like to leave after her time ended with the team. How could she demonstrate her deep care and appreciation for those around her?
Due to being removed from the roster, she had the winter to contemplate our exchange of ideas. In the spring, I noticed a drastic change in her court demeanor. Her friendliness showed in her approach toward opponents and toward her doubles partner. A difficult player transformed to the team captain by her senior year. To be a successful athlete often requires intense focus on mastering one’s craft while also shutting out distractions. The team, the coach, the opponents may all become barriers to individual attention and success. Addressing this mindset requires a deliberative and sensitive approach. As time progresses with teaching an altruistic mindset, players could better learn how to balance their self interests with team interests. Optimally, players would be capable of caring for themselves, their team, their school, and the world around them.