The battle between right and wrong is constantly being waged between friends, spouses, coworkers, and teammates. But what happens when both sides believe wholeheartedly that they are right? And what happens when those folks are on the same team? Or a coach and a player have dramatically different views of what’s happening on a team?
In a thought-provoking TEDtalk, Kathryn Schulz gives us the lowdown On Being Wrong. And what is “wrong”, really? It is anticipating one thing, but something else happens instead. I’m sure Wylie Coyote thought he was right to chase the Road Runner off a cliff…until he realized he’s run off the cliff. Until wrongness registers with us, being wrong feels just like being right.
Our players are no different than we are…we always think we’re right, as do they. So imagine a scenario where a player thinks she should be playing more than the coach does, here’s the progression of her thinking:
- Player thinks coach is ignorant. The coach just doesn’t know their stuff or hasn’t taken the time to study the available information. Once coach looks more closely at their playing ability, coach will make them a starter.
- Player thinks coach is an idiot. Now the player acknowledges that the coach has the information and has done their homework, unfortunately the coach is just too dimwitted to understand what’s right in front of her eyes.
- Player thinks coach is evil. The player realizes that the coach knows her stuff and has processed all available information and still thinks the player isn’t a starter. Now the player believes the coach has a personal problem and is just being mean. The player should be a starter, but the coach is so awful and spiteful that she just won’t let the player get more court time.
This sounds funny, but according to Schulz…it’s also science. We trust in our feelings of rightness, unfortunately feelings aren’t that reliable.
Here are some other scenarios where right and wrong play themselves out on a team:
- A player is making poor choices in their personal lives. Whether it’s a volatile relationship, an eating disorder, or inappropriate personal behavior, we’ve got to understand the player thinks they’re right. Our job is to shed light on their situation so that there is a realization that takes place. We have to help them realize how their behavior is affecting the team, the coaching staff, and their ability to give maximum effort in practice.
- Coaches are human too. Sometimes, there are those rare occasions when the coach is actually wrong about something. We don’t like to admit it, but that’s exactly what we have to do. Maybe you were wrong about a game plan for an opponent, admit it and change things up. Maybe you thought a player would be amazing and she just isn’t. Or maybe you made a change to your offense that you thought would take your team to greatness. Whatever it is, if we can squeak out a “maybe I was wrong”, we can model good behavior for our teams.
- It’s not as bad as we thought. We’ve all got a team that seems to have our number. And like it or not, our teams build things up in their heads (they’re so good, we’ve never beaten them, they always beat us, that one girl is amazing) about what will happen in competition. But sometimes they’re wrong about not being able to step up…sometimes we win those games against teams that “should” beat us. This is the only time when being wrong is a good thing!
Essentially, we all think we’re right…until we realize that we’re wrong. Hopefully this information will help us navigate the distance between right and wrong more intentionally.