Finding Grit and Resilience During Sports Setbacks
Finding Grit and Resilience During Sports Setbacks
No one can plan for setbacks. No one likes it. But, we can grow from it. We can be resilient and stronger on the other side of it. Our guest this week, Scott Secules, talks to us about the keys to finding that joy again in sports, while parents, coaches, and players are seeing an unusual setback.
How can parents help? What could coaches do to get better? How can young athletes be a leader, step up, and not lose their love of the sport they play?
Enjoy episode #56 featuring Scott Secules. And, listen to more episodes from the Hustle & Pro archives.
- [00:10] Introduction
- [01:05] Experiencing setbacks or disappointments in athletic career
- [03:50] Being resilient
- [06:45] Leadership learned through sports
- [08:30] How to lose gracefully
- [10:00] “Turning a rut into a river”
- [12:33] Building habits
- [16:55] Ideas on what you can do if you’re missing sports
- [22:20] Listening and asking questions
- [25:00] Being a good teammate off the field
Resources within this episode:
- Scott Secules: Positive Coaching Alliance: Bio | Twitter: @ScottSecs
- Positive Coaching Alliance: Twitter: @PCA_NorthTexas | IG: @PositiveCoachUS
- Jim Thompson’s Article on Using the Sports Shutdown to Recover the Joy of Sports
- PCA Conversation Starters
- Learner Lab
- Kelly Walker: Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to Hustle and Pro season two talking sports in Frisco from youth to pro. Now here’s your host, Kelly Walker.
Welcome to Hustle and Pro we talked before about sports sadness. So today let’s flip the script a little and talk about how to get that joy back. So I’ve invited our friend Scott Secules back. Hello again, Scott. Thanks for joining us.
My pleasure Kelly. How are you doing?
I couldn’t get through your name this time. I even had it. I knew Secules, Secules, Secules so as a former collegiate and NFL athlete and obviously a youth athlete too, you have knowledge of setbacks and, and different parts of your life and your career. And because you work with positive coaching Alliance, now you have knowledge and resources to kind of overcome some of those things and helping our youth, um, athletes and coaches and parents get past some of those moments. So that’s what I wanted to have you on today to kind of pick your brain about how you feel about, you know, reconnecting with the joy. Of course, if you might have to be away from it for awhile.
Well that’ll be good. Still, it’s a great topic. I look forward to visiting with you about it.
So when you kind of think back on your life, what, what are some examples of things that maybe you’ve experienced times in your athletic career that were setbacks or delays or some disappointments that you can point out as a place?
I think, I think Kelly, I think you’d go back to, gosh, you could probably go season by season and this one, this would be the longest podcast in the history of a podcast. But you know, I think if you’re competitive, and that’s one of the great lessons I think that the kids learn in sports is how to compete and, and, and if like many of our young, young people in our athletes, they’re competitive, you’re going to go for something and ultimately not get it.You know, whether it’s making a team and it’s that first time that a young athlete deals with maybe getting to a sub varsity or varsity level where they have cuts for the very first time. You know, one of the things I love about where we are here in North Texas is the middle school teams and the sub varsity teams want everybody to play. And when we first got the Texas, that’s the first time I ever saw multiple freshman football teams in the same school. Now that means these schools buy a lot of football helmets, but they don’t turn any of the young people away and they get to play. But there’s disappointments with not being the starting in search your position. Right? Uh, and, and how you deal with that. There are disappointments with getting cut. There are disappointments and setbacks that are injury based. Uh, unfortunately here in Texas with our friends at the UIL, there are disappointments and setbacks that are grade related. When these young people forget that they are student athletes. Right. So, you know, I can think back to those situations of, you know, having a bad game and throwing a couple interceptions and being really hard on myself because, you know, a lot great athletes are a lot of, you know, strong athletes are perfectionists and they, they want perfection. They demand perfection out of themselves. And then that puts you in a bad mental spot when you’re not perfect. Right. And if you’re not equipped with the tools to overcome that, then you can set yourself on a spiral. And that’s when it helps to have great teammates and great coaches and great parents to help you get out of it.
Yeah. And I think some of those, you know, tools to help overcome that, it kind of goes back to, I mean there’s some fundamental things that sort of help you deal with the disappointment, um, and sort of keys to success. So some of the things that I’ve actually been reading, um, are from positive coaching Alliance, um, articles and emails and different things that I’ve been reading about. But, so some that spoke to me are about being resilient, which is kind of what you just said is, is bouncing back, um, having a growth mindset, the importance of not being so fixed on one specific thing that you can’t be flexible. Um, and then becoming a leader in and outside of your sport. So, you know, maybe it’s the example of a season and the injury or whatever it is, that doesn’t mean you can’t still be a leader, um, with your own team or find a different way to lead and, you know, step up and do something else that benefits you and your community. Right.
So true. You know, I think what we see is, you know, I love the idea of resilience and grit. You know, I think that’s one of the greatest lessons and one of the things that we really stress that positive coaching Alliance. So if we can teach them to be resilient, that’s a lesson that will impact them the rest of their life. Because unfortunately this, you and I both know you make mistakes as an adult too, not just as a young athlete. Um, and, and if we can equip our young people through sports done the right way with that resilience and with that growth mindset, you know, I love, I love that as well. You know, that we want our kids to see they can be a better version of themselves tomorrow than they are today. No, that it’s not fixed. Their talent is not fixed because that’s this tall a mom’s this tall and I’m never going to be a great athlete. Just look what I came from, you know? Nope. That’s not the way. That’s not the way it works. It’s a fluid situation that allows you to, if you want to, because you control it, be a better version of yourself tomorrow. I mean, guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James are fabulous examples of that. I mean, on Marvel at a guy like LeBron and his 17th season in the NBA, so he comes back better in different aspects of his game every year.
Right. And so different than in season one. There’s such a difference in a skill you learn, but then the leadership and just that mindset. Um, I’ve actually listened to some meditation that LeBron does about mindset and how to get your, get your mind right and how it changes you as a player. Yeah. There’s so many off the field things. Um, I read a tweet about, um, recently about from an NCAA senior who’s, you know, stoppage in play of his senior year. It’s a big deal that he’s, he has athletes that might not get to finish what they started and, or you know what their end goal was for whatever part of their sports career they’re in. But he said some things are just bigger than than baseball. This was Kyle [inaudible] by the way, tweeted that some things are bigger than baseball. If we get to play, we’ll be ready. If not, we’re trained as players to get punched in the face and get back up and keep moving, which I think is kind of is a cool way to look at it. You know, if you get to do to finish it out, you’ll be prepared. And if you don’t, you’ll keep going in your life and do something else that drives you and find, find other passions elsewhere and just keep going.
So I think there’s a big part of that to you. You talked about leadership too, and I thought, I don’t want to have us move on without, without touching that one. And I think it’s such a big part and such a great lesson. And one of the things that the kids learn at all different levels of sports is what it means to be a leader. And at PCA we very simply defined leadership as making those around. You better use the, the the example of a season ending injury, taking a leader off the field. Well it doesn’t mean you still can’t be a great teammate and be there to support your teammates and make them better. And then that bleeds over into everything we do. You know, how many examples do we see on a, on a school campus that the leaders walking up and down the halls and in the lunch room or the athletes?
I liked the phrase that the servant leader approach because sometimes the leader has to make more sacrifices for the good of the team or work harder at a different pace or you know, just step up and do something different.
To make your whole team better. So I wanted to know, you mentioned some experience as a player. Do you have any examples as a parent when you’ve seen your kids as when they were athletes? Um, have any, you know, seasons, setbacks or major sports disappointments that you remember?
Oh, you know, I think it’s interesting. I always think back to even my days as a, as a a little athlete, a young athlete that you get so competitive and you, you got so mad when you lost the sphere of the car and just in tears in the back seat, you know, just mortified that you lost. Well, you know, I think you go through that and I think one of the great lessons that sports teaches is how to lose gracefully, right? How to win, win gracefully, but how to lose gracefully and give your best effort. And I think we’ve seen, uh, our son and both girls in their limited athletics careers, um, go through those things. You know, won a big game, be a part of a big game and not have it go your way and see how that impacts them emotionally. And then how we as parents can, you know, find the way to have a good conversation and get them talking about it and not be the one to fix it, right? But to be the one to listen and allow them to talk through why they’re disappointed in and it’s not our role as parents. So that time to go, well, you know, you would’ve won the game with your taught that pass now, which was bigger than that. Right. And that happens so often that, you know, our parents being tied in our success as a parent being tied to our [inaudible], our child’s success in athletics, which was so disappointing. That impacts how the child feels about it.
Right. Right. So, um, I mentioned, I’ve been reading some things from, from your group, the founder of PVA, Jim Thompson. He wrote an article that I’m going to link to in the show notes of this podcast, but it was called recovering the joy of sports. It actually is what made me want to call you up and talk to you and get your input on this. But, um, I love one of his analogies about turning a rut into a river. So his example is going from something being unfortunate to miss, you know, key part of your season or something and something being unfair. But instead of using those words to, to think, to shift, you know, your thinking and look at it as, um, the downtime, right? Instead of an unfair, unfortunate downtime from missing playing is to rekindle the love of this sport, why you play it in the first place, to strengthen your relationships with your teammates, with your parents, with your coaches, whatever it is off the field, and to be grateful for your overall health that you’ll still have another chance to get back out there at some point in time. But I think that’s huge. It’s so hard to see that when you’re up close with it, especially if you’re a kid and you’re missing your senior year or something, or you’re so devastated by what you see right now in front of you to really step back and think about. But if we as parents can remind, you, know, each other and our kids to turn that what we think is a rut into the river story, it will give you a little bit hope, I think.
You know, and I think that’s, that’s where our experiences as parents can really be valuable, right? We’re the people that try to bring in a different lens because as you alluded to, these kids focus on the here and now and the what I’m missing. And you know, in this situation there’s so much new and so much different. And you know, young kids are just like us adults, you know, change is not an easy thing. Right. You know, and then when you, you take away a comfort area, you know, they are comfortable on the court, they’re comfortable on the soccer field, they’re comfortable in the pool and somebody other than their mom and dad is telling them just what you don’t get to do that. And by the way, stay home with me all day and let’s live together all the time.
It’s not their ideal what they had their plan, you know?
So I think we can, we can keep looking at that lens and like you said, provide them with an opportunity. You know, this too shall pass. There will be opportunities to do that. And why don’t you know, let’s use this time wisely. Give them some constructive things. Go out in the backyard and work on your ball handling skills. Go out and shoot some baskets. Let’s go for a walk. Let’s go for a jog. You know, how, what can you do to be better? And for us as parents to set great examples exactly of that growth mindset.
I do kind of like goes through an outline, some of those tips for different like for coaches and for parents. But real quick, before we go there, um, I just want to mention like building habits. Um, I think it’s a huge opportunity when you have downtime away from a sport to build habits, good habits, or to break bad habits. Sometimes breaking a bad habit can be just as productive, right?
But so I listened to Trevor Reagan’s podcast also and he just put out an episode about how to make lasting change. And it’s, it’s being a better learner, the learner lab, um, and being a better player. And part of that is just the fascinating, a little bit of how we build habits. So, um, I’m curious, do you as a player, do you remember any specific like good built habit building techniques or bad habits that you repetitively had to see teammates break?
Well, you know, I think that gets into the discipline of what it takes to be an athlete these days and then playing at a higher level. You know, it’s a 24, seven, 365 day job or 365 day job to um, prepare yourself and be able to perform at the highest level. And I think, you know, that’s a whole nother set. That’s a whole other framework in your mind.The locate, I am always an athlete. I’m not just the football player during football season, you know, because if I do that, there’s somebody else that has done it every day and they’re going to take my job, you know? So I think it’s, it’s always kind of adjusting your lens and your focus to try to say, what do I need to do to be the very best, you know, we fought, we talked to the young kids about being the 24-hour athletes. You know, so many times these, these young people, even though it’s a high school, that they’re only an athlete when school’s over and they walk into the locker room and then they’re not an athlete as soon as they walk out of the locker room, no. Well, we talk to them about, you know, Hey, you represent that program. You’re part of the program. You were a leader on your campus every day, all day long. You don’t turn it on and off just cause you stepped across the line or you stepped onto the field or onto the court, you know? So getting them to think about how intentional they have to be to really be excellent if they want to be [inaudible] and that’s up to them, right? Know, it’s up to them. That’s not a choice. It’s their choice to want to be good. But how do they do that?
We help them.
I don’t think as parents we can force good habits on our kids. We can teach them and show them and hope that they absorb them. Right. So like you said, the 24 seven athlete, I mean it’s up to the athlete. If they get to a point when they decide to be theory more serious about it, you know, maybe it’s getting up 20 minutes earlier at a certain time or whatever it is, carving out the right time to where you get your own one-on-one to go focus on a specific skill or go get a little faster or get your grades up or make a habit to drink, to stay hydrated and drink your water. Whatever it is that you, you know, that that individual needs to kind of get to the next step just to build those daily habits because every small habit really built like a longterm result if you do it right.
So true. And I think the task, and you hit the nail on the head, the parents can show you how, but they can’t make you do it. And that’s what we’ve talked about that before, that, that these parents and these youth sports parents get so invested in it that they are there to hover and they’re there to smother and they’re there to protect. And you know, the real growth comes from when a child has a chance to be challenged and to grind a little bit, sail a little bit, and to get back up, get broken down a little bit.
How muscle is built, right? Break it down and fill this out.
Then we can allow our child, is the parent to model the behavior and say, okay, here it’s yours to do. It’s not mine to do for you. That’s where the learning is in it. And that’s where I think you get to your point originally the lasting habits. They see the, how, they see the why and they associate the two and see that there’s value for them. And again, winding back to our growth mindset that I can be better if I do these things.
Exactly. Okay. So then let’s talk about what we can do. So I have some ideas from for those listening, just kind of different ideas. If you are in the situation where you miss sports because you can’t get to it, you can’t participate in it, your kid can’t participate in it, whatever it is. As coaches and as parents and as, as athletes have some ideas.
I want you to jump in Scott and tell me what I’ve missed or, or your input on some of these. So let’s start with coaches. So, um, I’ve seen some really cool ideas lately from some coaches about virtual meetups, right? To keep their team comradery going, um, and different challenges. Maybe it’s workout challenges and maybe if, depending on the age of the kid, if they’re able to snap pictures and, um, you know, submit different videos of them learning a skill or challenging the next player to learn a skill or be at a certain time running or whatever it is. But, um, you can get really creative as a coach to keep, to keep kids that may not be physically in your presence, to still keep a drive going and keep the teammate camaraderie going. Um, and also as a coach, I think it’s a really important opportunity if you have downtime away from your players, whether it’s offseason or a timer. Like right now it’s just a stoppage, um, to read. So there’s so many good books out there about good coaches. So if I was a coach right now, I would definitely take advantage of time to go read up on the grades to get some ideas and make notes and like prepare yourself for when you’re restarting to be like more than ready and have a whole new energized like outlook on your coaching strategy.
Uh, I think that’s a great way to look at it. We have actually kind of a it positive coaching Alliance, tried to figure out that, you know, we’re now in the resource sharing mode. You know, we’re not doing live workshops. We’re there to service not only our current partners, but our local youth sports, uh, community. And I think that the challenge that we’ve got in front of us and the opportunity we have is, you know, we’ve been forced into this proverbial pause button, but it gives us a chance to parent, coach, athlete, we we evaluate our priorities, you know, and that the silver lining might be that everybody realizes the importance of how we support each other and how we develop our kids mentally and emotionally is just as important as teaching them the game.
Absolutely. And a part of that is that parent connection. Um, I mean I’ve felt it, I know your kids are probably a little old for you to be like getting back into backyard doing this, but mine minor at that age where, um, as a parent, you know, I suggest just the simpleness of just playing. I know it isn’t always feasible everyday, all the time, but even 15 minutes in a backyard or front yard, whatever. Um, we’ve been playing a lot of just catch basic patch and ground balls and, and playing soccer, just kicking around and even just getting fun and like tennis balls and um, I’m kind of like rewound my mind too when my dad used to teach me how to build ground ball different ways with different tools like that. And so it’s really been kind of a fun connection to kind of take a step back and um, you know, play with nerve falls or wiffle balls and all these fun little juggling contest and all these things that we’re doing. But it’s a nice way to kind of reconnect and take it back to the simpler times when your kid wasn’t with a coach three or four times a week practicing, you actually get the time back with them a little to reconnect and do that.
It’s been interesting to me to see that in this kind of new normal that we’ve got that part of the day if you can just to get outside where all of us kids to come play.
Does a teacher, part of the conversation having with her little classmates is, Hey, did you get out of the house? Did you go out and play outside something that you have to get outside and go, you know, that’s just as important and that’s why they built it into the curriculum during the day where you see this isn’t just a break for the teachers, you know, it’s, it’s something there that’s good for the kids and, and I think it’s good for all of us. You know, we’re cooped up, get out and go for a walk. You know, my, my ball plan these days is with an 85 pound black lab.
We’ll chase it until he falls down, you know, so, so that’s our, that’s our time to get out of the house. And you know, he doesn’t go stir crazy as a two and a half year old puppy. Easters right. It’s all there for us to do. But that, being active in that, that reconnected, as you said, we don’t really coach our kids a lot anymore. You know, we have somebody else do that. Exactly. You’ve kind of lost that chance to actually be the one playing with them. And depending on the age of your kid, I mean maybe you don’t, maybe it’s a no contest game or maybe it is, make it, make it competitive depending on, you know, if you’ve got a high school player who’s a competitive player, get competitive with them and even if it’s a mom or dad or grandparent or whoever, if they, if you can’t do the skills as well as your kid, that’s okay. Get creative, pull up some YouTube videos and figure out how to, you know, run runs and fun drills and just spend the time with, with your athlete to just kind of remind them why they wanted to play this sport in the first place. One of the other things I was going to say, you already mentioned it was about what the parents can do was, um, was listening. So, um, I am going to link to some conversation starters that you guys provide, but, but a big part of listening is like actually purposefully like shutting your phone off or getting away from your phone and, and just letting them tell you how they feel about this situation because it don’t assume, right. Don’t assume that the part they hate is just cause they don’t get to play a game on Saturday. It might the biggest part they hate right now or this making them sad or something could be that they haven’t seen these two teammates or the assistant coach or whatever it is. You might be able to solve that problem for them or help them not solve it for them. I know we’re not supposed to do that, but help them work through that and at least, yeah, you never know. You could help them solve a problem. But um, I guess the bottom line is just to really have the conversations and listen so that they can be heard when they’re struggling through a time, you know, a downtime.
Well, and that’s the thing, as you said, they’ve been taken out of their social circles where they do get to talk and that doesn’t stop them from being, um, [inaudible] texters. Right. You know, so, so you know, thank God for unlimited text messages in this day and age, but, but you know, so giving them a chance to talk and that’s the key thing for us as parents is asking a good question and then letting him, and then as you said, listen to them, get them talking and let them go and then ask them leading questions that keep them talking and that fills their techs.
You know, going back to the old emotional tank piece for positive [inaudible], the fact that they’re appreciated and they’re listened to, keeps them, keeps them positive, you know, and there are easy ways nowadays with what’s going on to, to kind of get in the tank a little bit and go and be down, be disappointed, be unhappy. And you know, I’ve got to go to school at home. I’ve got to do everything at home. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t see my friends X, Y, Z. But if we can, as parents find ways, small ways to fill their emotional tanks and keep them going, then they’re going to buy the time better. And we’re, and we’re not gonna look back on this as a time that that affected them emotionally negatively. Yeah, exactly. That had a negative effect on them. It’s just a growing experience that they’ll look back and remember and you know, hopefully we can deal with and be past it.
Exactly. Okay. So then that group of athletes, so the kids, so then let’s kind of touch on some of those tips or things that, that they can be doing. I mean, we’ve talked a lot about character building things and being a leader off the field. Um, but I had some other thoughts. So of course like staying in shape and keeping up with nutrition. Um, you mentioned that earlier, like 24, seven athlete, that goes back to that too. But, um, I think it’s important to keep being a good teammate. So say, you know, you broke your leg and you know you can’t compete and you’re a gymnast and you can’t compete the whole year or whatever it is, right? Or you popped your Achilles and you know you’re out for a lot longer than you think you can still show up and you can still motivate and listen to your teammates and be one of the most, you know, important people in that room. Um, or if you can’t even be there physically, you can still send messages and ask motivating question or send motivating comments and ask thought provoking questions to still lift your team up. Right.
Certainly, you know, I think that’s the big of the great blessing that technology is for the kids. Now you know, that they can be on a group text and you know, I mean we see professional sports teams that use group text as a tool to be positive, to connect, to build chemistry. So you know, to talk about, you mentioned earlier to challenge somebody, Hey, I did my workout today and I did this many of this is at the end. Okay, well sin everybody got it. Okay. Well hold it, I have to be them. I have to be her, you know, and, and you keep building this and I think that lets them hold onto that team because we don’t know if they’re going to play as a team again.
You know, that’s the unknown of where we are. But if we can continue to lift those up around it and be good teammates and be good friends, the life lessons in that off the rest of your life.
Right. And some of the, you know, he might not play with the same team again as it looks. Today’s team, right? But if you’re trying to build in as an individual athlete, there’s a lot of skill built skill building you can do. I mean depending on your age of your kiddo, you can find so much on YouTube to help with skills and drills. You can find old games kind of like, like watching film. You can go, you can learn so much by watching and looking up like your favorites or the greats in whatever sport you’re playing and go study them. Like go find out what made them great. What are the, even on the core are all on the field and off the field stuff that made them stand apart from the rest. And I think a big part that kids don’t do is read about those people. Um, every time I read an autobiography, biography and autobiography about an athlete, I am amazed at how inspiring it is and how much you can learn. Um, and some of it’s learning what to avoid and learn, you know, learning what not to do. Um, like, like I when I read the Josh Hamilton book several years back and we have a lot of just random sports books in our house that you can learn so much to make yourself better just by reading about others before you have done.
Well and I think that now, you know, that used to be, that was the book, the books I read when we had to read a book for X grade for a book report I was reading a book about Pete Rose or whoever the heck it was. Yeah. Back a gazillion years ago. You know, I, I love the idea of being able to watch. I mean, you can watch, you know, golfers can watch every master of broadcast in the history of the masters. Going back and watching the greats play a great tournament or watching, you know, there’s enough YouTube videos now and you know, you can go learn skills. You know, if you want something you can do in your backyard, you can chip. Well, I watched a couple videos and go off there and work on my short game right in the backyard. Right. Um, you know, it’s, it’s, I think there’s almost.
I mean, there are few sports that you have to go into a specific type of training facility, right? But most, most, any sport you can find a way to modify, to train in small bits and skills, developing skills in your backyard, in your garage on a rainy day or whatever it is. Some something, right? I mean, I’m feel like you can always get better.
Well, and the lesson you learned in that too is creativity, right? Right. So how can you adapt? How can you adjust? What can you do to accomplish that, you know, and, and be ready when the flag drops. And I think that’s ultimately what we’re trying to do.
Yeah, absolutely. Well, you’ve given me some additional ideas so I don’t want to harp on the sports sadness part of, you know, downtime because it does make me sad, but I want to find the good moments and like rekindling that joy and love. Like it’s been really fun throwing the ball around and just kind of remembering the basics of why I like to play sports and why my kids like to play sports. And so I hope that others out there can focus on some of those positives and ways to grow and not just see everything as a so unfortunate or so unfair because we’re all dealt though with every, you know, dealt the hand that we’re dealt and that’s out of our control. So all we can control is, you know, taking, taking the best of it and making ourselves better. So we come out on the other side better for it. Right. Well thanks Scott. Thank you for not coming in the studio this time, but answering my call to chat with me and, and discuss this yet again.
Kelly, my pleasure.