A big part of the growth and development process for players is getting critical feedback from a team coach or basketball trainer. It is sometimes hard for players to accept criticism, but without it they are limiting their potential. We don’t want you to fall into the trap of rejecting or reacting strongly against criticism, so here are some tips on how to accept and grow from criticism.
Four Tips To Handle Basketball Criticism
1. Delay Your Response
Criticism can be very hard to hear. It can shock you. It can hurt. And it can make you angry. Criticism can even rob you of the confidence you’ve built in a certain skill you’ve developed, or on your overall ability as a basketball player. A natural, human reaction to criticism is to lash out at the person giving it to you, or to instantly defend yourself against it. Try delaying your response to the criticism, as this will do a couple of things for you. First, it will give you time to ponder what your coach or trainer is saying to see if it is true. After the initial hurt or anger wears away, did the criticism have any merit? Sometimes with a little time to reflect you may see that it does. Secondly, if a response to the criticism is warranted, a delayed response will allow you to respond without anger. Although you may very well want to express a feeling of anger towards the giver of criticism, that anger may cloud the clarity of the message you want to get across.
2. Ask Questions
Nobody has a perfect command of the English (or any other) language. Maybe your coach is meaning to say one thing, but you are hearing another thing because of how it is communicated. When it comes to criticism, this can happen often. Ask your coach or trainer questions about things you don’t understand or may not agree with. This may give your coach or trainer the opportunity to give examples that can help you see what he is saying, or it may give him an opportunity to change the wording of the criticism such that you can understand it better. Players who deeply care about their development may also ask “how can I improve in this area”, turning the conversation from a hard one to one that ends emotionally positive for the player.
3. Get a Second Opinion
Getting a second or third opinion on a coach’s or trainer’s criticism can be helpful for you as a player. This does not mean to go find someone who is going to tell you that your coach doesn’t know what in the world he’s talking about. It means finding a trusted buddy, a parent, or other knowledgeable basketball person and asking them, “Hey, my coach said [fill in the blank] to me. Do you know why he would say that? Do you see it like that?” Sometimes hearing the same criticism from a different source can help you accept it better. Also, if you are receiving criticism that you simply don’t agree with and can’t understand, maybe hearing someone else validate your feelings can be helpful for you. If you are receiving criticism you don’t agree with, you can simply have a later conversation with your trainer or coach, and ask questions about why it was given.
4. Consider the Source
From the outside looking in, you may understand the value of constructive criticism. But when you are receiving it, criticism may not seem so constructive. And it actually may not be constructive in delivery. For that reason, try considering the source. If you have a coach who you believe both knows the game of basketball and wants what’s best for you as a player, you might be very well be able to trust his intentions. If he gives you criticism that hurts you on delivery, it is likely for your good and will help you in the long run. If you have a coach who is tough and hard nosed but good at heart, you might assume the same. Maybe the delivery wasn’t optimal, but you can see the good in it. However if you have a coach you do not trust, criticism can feel like a personal attack and you might want to disregard it. But the aforementioned tips may help you deal with this. Even if the criticism is not given constructively, you may still take the message and grow from it. Mature players learn how to do this because they know that every team coach they have may not be on their side. For instance if a coach tells you, “I’m not going to play you because you’re the worst shooter on this team. I would hate to have to ever put you in the game” you can internalize a response like “okay, I may not be in a good situation on this team, but I know I can work on my shooting. That will help me in the future whether it’s with this team or not.” Negative criticism has actually fueled the fire of many a great player as they have looked to prove doubters wrong. You can do the same thing with the negative criticism you receive. Criticism is a critical part of youth basketball, player development and life in general.
Learn how to deal with and accept criticism to better yourself as a basketball player. Whether it is given constructively or not, we’ve given you methods here to either validate or qualify criticism, understand criticism, as well as considering using some negative criticism for your own good. Take everything in stride, and don’t let any piece of criticism steal your love for and drive in the game. Allow criticism to be one of the things that helps you become great in this great game of basketball!