🏆 The Man in the Arena

As coaches, athletes, and leaders, we can all relate. There are so many critics out there in today’s world, especially with the advent of social media.

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The Man in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt gave one of his greatest speeches on the streets of Paris.

“The Man in the Arena”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

As coaches, athletes, and leaders, we can all relate.

There are so many critics today, especially with the advent of social media.

Everyone is able to be a critic, have a voice, and hide behind their social media account. As coaches, even some of our athletes today must manage the critics and outside noise that can creep into their play and ultimately hurt our teams.

As coaches and leaders, we must focus on what we can control and ignore the outside noise.

We also need to help our players and team manage the noise, which is getting harder for coaches.

What can we, as coaches, do to help?

Here are five things coaches can do to help your athletes and team manage the outside noise.

  1. Build a Strong Team Culture: Create a team culture that values unity, resilience, and focus. Encourage open communication and support among teammates, creating a safe space where players can rely on each other and rise above external criticism. Check out my books, Culture WINS and Culture WINS 2, for ideas on ways to build this culture. Get both as eBooks in a bundle and save here → Culture WINS Bundle.

  2. Foster Resilience: Equip your athletes with mental resilience tools to handle criticism and distractions. Teach them to focus on their growth and development rather than being swayed by external opinions or the win or loss. Teach them the importance of good habits. Make sure they always remember that the Process is the Prize.

  3. Set Clear Goals and Expectations: Establish clear team goals and individual expectations early on. When athletes have a clear vision of their purpose and role, they are better equipped to tune out the noise and concentrate on their performance. Make sure you celebrate all of these roles on your team and ensure they feel valued as a member of the team.

  4. Promote Self-Evaluation and Reflection: Encourage players to evaluate their performances objectively, acknowledging both successes and areas for improvement. By developing a growth mindset, athletes can use criticism constructively to fuel their motivation. The best athletes have a “failure is growth” mindset. This mindset helps them focus on continuous improvement and not on outside noise.

  5. Provide Supportive Feedback: As coaches, offer constructive feedback in a supportive and encouraging manner. Celebrate successes and use setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. Creating a positive and supportive feedback environment will boost players' confidence and resilience.

Remember, as Theodore Roosevelt eloquently stated, the ones in the arena, facing challenges head-on, truly matter.

As coaches, we often face the same criticism. These five things above can be applied to coaches as well.

Make sure you focus on building your team culture, trust yourself, get feedback from those you truly trust can care about - ignore the rest, set meaningful and honest goals focused on growth and improvement, and make sure you find a strong support system with your spouse, assistant coaches, administration, and coaching colleagues.

By focusing on what we can control, nurturing mental toughness, and providing a supportive environment, we can help our athletes and ourselves rise above the critics and continue the journey to success.

Always remember the “Man in the Arena” and keep it in the back of your mind when the critics come.

Good Luck!


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"The greatest glory in life is not never failing, but rising every time we fall."

- Vince Lombardi

"The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

- Michelangelo



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