Happy Bob Ryland Day to everyone in Mobile, Alabama…and also, of course to the great Bob Ryland in NYC.

Today’s message is especially dedicated to Coach Mark L in Singapore.

Here’s an email I received at 5:19 this morning from Singapore…

Hi Ed
I just want to thank you for helping me be a better coach and also a better person. Hope you don’t mind if I sometimes, share with some of my students your inspiring words & examples. Every time I feel down, all it takes is me reading your blog and I feel energize and positive again. Just one question if I may, how do you handle students who have bad attitudes? Some of my fellow coaches have advise me to be firm, scold or even kick them outta of class, but I feel that’s pretty negative and is not a longer term solution.
Many thanks & have a great day too.

Mark L (Singapore)

Here is my response…

Hi Mark,
Thank you for your email and kind words – I love hearing from readers. I also have much gratitude for you reading my daily blog. How did you find it, and what sport do you coach?

Of course I don’t mind you sharing my blog messages with your students. Many coaches print my messages and hand them out to their students. You may also be interested in my book, “Game. Set. Life. – Peak Performance for Sports and Life.” as well.

To answer your question about how to handle students with bad attitudes, I will begin with this…

Praise in public, scold in private.

Here’s what I mean – the best thing to do is catch students doing something right and then say something like, “Bobby, I like how you hustled for that ball!”

Then, that will register with Bobby and he is more likely to do that again.

If you put Bobby down, or punish Bobby, you may get some results, but he will not respect you or have fun.

There may be times when you need to be more stern with Bobby. Wait until after class and tell him that you like him and want him to improve. That you expect a lot out of him and he should expect a lot out of himself. In some cases, Bobby may be extremely bad, then you may warn him that he may have to find a different class, but that would be a last resort.

Once I was teaching a boy who had all the talent in the world, but clearly wasn’t having fun and had a poor attitude. I tried everything, but nothing worked. So finally, when we were picking up balls one day, I asked him if he liked tennis. He said, “No, my mom makes me come.”

I said, “Well, since you’re here, let’s make the most of it and have some fun.” I began asking him what he DID enjoy doing and he mentioned some video games and TV shows. I talked to him about them and then something amazing happened. He started smiling a bit. And then he started smiling a lot. His feet started moving and he began hitting the fuzz off of the ball! He became an enthusiastic tennis player!

On another occasion, I taught this older woman, once a week for a couple of years. No matter what I did, no matter how well she played, she ALWAYS complained about the lesson. So what did I do? I killed her with kindness. Inside I was frustrated, but outside, I was nothing but positive and caring towards her.

Then I started my own company and left the club that I was teaching at. A friend who was still teaching there later told me that she was asking about me. “Where is Ed?”

“He doesn’t teach here anymore – He started his own company.”

And my former pessimistic student responded, “Oh. I always knew he was too good for this place!”

Those were the first positive words I heard come out of her mouth in two years.

So you don’t know what people are thinking.

You don’t know what people are going through.

Many people have bad attitudes because other people have treated them poorly in the past, or they have been conditioned by negative events or thoughts. As coaches, we need to give positive reinforcement to create a paradigm shift.

I hope this helps and please keep in touch. Perhaps I will come give a workshop in Singapore one day soon.

From one coach to another…

All the best,

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