Ignore the Noise–The Later Years
Come Ready or Never Start
Ignoring the Noise As Young Athletes Progress
In the Come Ready Or Never Start mentality system, noise is defined as any negative feedback that discourages youngsters to strive to get better, reach their potential and achieve their athletic goals. This feedback could come from family members, friends, coaches or complete strangers.
“You’re not fast enough.”
“You just don’t have enough talent.”
“That’s just not your sport.”
“You’ll never make the team.”
“You’ll never play much.”
“You’ll never start.”
As young athletes get older (junior and senior high age) and get more serious about competitive sports, they should begin to start visualizing their goals and things they want to accomplish—learning to even write them down. This includes careers they may aspire to. Many times they’ll cut pictures out of goal ‘role models’ to remind them of their long-term goals.
With these goals in mind, they are old enough now to identify the ‘noise’ or negative chatter that is out there providing negative reinforcement for them. They should ignore this ‘noise’ in terms of affecting the way to pursue their goals—instead use the negativity as a motivation. They should remember the ‘noise’ before they go to bed at night and when they get out of bed in the morning—letting it motivate them “to prove those people wrong.” (Some of this noise may even come from their friends. If kids are not confident, they’ll try to bring their friends down, too.)
Kids have to look past this ‘noise’ to focus on their goals. They can hear and remember the ‘noise’ but let it motivate them. They need to be told not to be confrontational towards the people providing this ‘noise.’ Absorb the ‘noise’, acknowledge it if they want, internalize it and then say to themselves, “We’ll see….”
‘Noise’ can affect confidence, especially when it comes from people that the child cares about—family, friends or coaches. It can affect them in a good way when they internalize it and use it to get better. It can affect them in a negative way when they question their abilities, “…maybe that person is right…” Youngsters that suffer a temporary crisis in confidence because of ‘noise’ can get that confidence back through more practice and preparation—putting the time in to get better.
‘Noise’ may not be something heard by young athletes, but instead be some sort of negative event. Maybe they struck out with the bases loaded; committed a number of turnovers; allowed a soft goal; made an error. They should react thinking this way:
“Maybe I wasn’t good enough in this situation, but I’m not giving up. This is what I have to work on to get better so that I can succeed in that situation when it comes up again. And I will be back!”
In these situations the young athlete should go back to working on the fundamentals and ask themselves whether they are putting in quality time to reach their potential or just going through the motions.
As kids progress to high school the potential impact of the ‘noise’ is greater. There is stronger peer pressure. There is more intensity with athletic situations (i.e. dropping a pass in front of 3,000 fans). There is often more of a sense of urgency if the athletes and their parents are hoping for an college athletic scholarship. That’s why it’s important for them to have a firm foundation of how to ignore and deal with the ‘noise’ in the development of their athletic careers, so they can be more successful in ignoring it at stage of their careers.
I actually feel that young athletes that face the most ‘noise’ have a little bit of an edge because the ‘noise’ provides another motivation that pushes them even more than their counterparts who don’t face as much ‘noise.’ There is always a little more you can give than you think, as an athlete. Overcoming the ‘noise’ can bring that out as the athlete shows people they can accomplish a goal that they were told they couldn’t.
Good coaches reinforce the ignore the ‘noise’ mentality, but some coaches will intentionally cause the ‘noise’ to motivate kids and see how they respond. This could be in the form of a constantly critiquing their performance in a negative way. Kids may feel picked on by the coach or feel they are being singled out for criticism. Again, their best response is to use that ‘noise’ as a motivational tool to get better. Parents should provide positive reinforcement, noting that the coach wouldn’t be on the youngster if he didn’t think he could be an important part of the team.
And how does the young athlete handle things when he or she has overcome the ‘noise’ to accomplish their goals? They should not go back to those who caused the ‘noise’ and gloat or be vindictive. They should be gracious—realizing that part of the motivation they used to be successful came from those people providing the ‘noise.’