Whenever a coach points out a mistake to a player, the player always has the opportunity to try and shift the blame somewhere else. Not wanting the blame for a mistake is a natural human reaction. Unlike in school, where homework eating dogs run wild, sports often leave a player or his teammates as the only possible sources for mistakes.
Trying to assign blame to a teammate is sure way for a player to become unpopular on the team. However, players need to think through why they are trying to avoid blame in the first place. Mistakes are a normal part of any activity and this includes sports. When coaches point out mistakes, they are not looking for excuses, they are looking to try and prevent the problem in the future.
Players should consider limiting their answers to coaches to one of two possible answers. These are:
- I don't understand.
- No excuses - I'll try harder.
The first answer lets coaches know that a player doesn't understand how the mistake happened and needs additional instruction. Coaches are there to teach and most coaches welcome player questions.The second answer lets coaches know that a player knows how the mistake happened and what to do to correct it. The coach can then expect the player to act differently at the next opportunity.
Accepting blame for mistakes is essential for learning how to correct them. When players blame others or make excuses, they often guarantee that the coach will be pointing out their same mistake in the future.