“Coaching: The Art Peace & War”

Developing Command of the Psychology of Discomfort


As coaches, “If our plan is for one year, teach them WHAT to do. If our plan is for ten years, teach them HOW to do it. If our plan is for one hundred years, teach them WHY they’re doing it.” – Thanks William Bonney for sharing this little reminder for me that its ok to lose a battle here and there with our young athletes if our plan is to win the war. As Sun Tzu states in his eloquent treatise “Art of War”, this is only accomplished by winning the hearts and minds of those that you are engaged in battle with. (If this can’t be accomplished, the enemy must be “destrominated”, so demoralized that the enemy has zero thoughts of retribution. If this option does not exist, then warfare should be avoided). As coaches we often forget that the moment we introduce discomfort, we should be prepared for the battle that the athletes will have within themselves as they fight for self preservation and/or the displaced anger that they will unwillingly focus. The target of that hatred will undoubtedly be on the perceived source of the discomfort, which is us as the implementer of the protocol. We are “forcing” them to do what makes them uncomfortable. The best coaches develop and sharpen the coping mechanisms that the athlete will use under duress for high, positive effects. They inform the athletes WHAT to expect and more importantly HOW to utilize these tools to be successful in conditions that are designed to promote failure. The brilliance is in the most important, the WHYs. Because they know that it is the usage of the psychomotor weapons that they are forging that affords them the composure, grit and laser-focused mindset to be successful within the arenas and theaters. It is this high-level SDL (State Dependent Learning) that drives epigenetic changes towards elevating potential. The beauty of it all is the amount of inspiration that overflows to teammates and down on into the future generations that are watching and learning how they are supposed to do things, how they are supposed to act within the culture of the team.

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