Head Games

How many times can you be beaten down and still manage to get up? How many times can you get stepped on when you’re down and fight to live another day because you know you’re right?

Hour after hour. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year.

You try to put a brave face on and push on, knowing who you are, but not knowing what they want, expect or how to please them.

It’s never good enough, they always want more.

You learn to how to walk on pins and needles and tip toe around the conflict, but there’s no place to hide, when you get singled out, called out, yelled at and demeaned.

You’re told repeatedly that you are the problem.

They never look in the mirror, they never see the damage, hurt, pain or potential damage.

Some things are just too hard to admit.

You’re told why repeatedly, even though you have done nothing wrong.

“Why don’t you toughen up.”

“This is going to make you a better player and stronger person.”

“This kind of stuff builds resiliency and character.”

“This is going to make you a man.” 

Why are some people still playing head games?

Do head games really work for every athlete or person?

What about resiliency?

What about self-concept and self-esteem?

What are we really teaching kids and athletes in 2019-2020 by using head games?  

What toll do head games have on players and more importantly the individual?

As teachers, coaches, or any role for that matter in life we have all at one time or other tried to reach, inspire or motivate. We have used all the tricks in the books even head games to get our point across, but do we really know the impact of our words and actions, do we really know the after effect of our actions?

Resiliency, but at What Cost?

There’s a big difference between constructive criticism and head games.

There’s a massive difference between being able to handle both of those things.

How do you build true resiliency and character?

Is it through failure or success?


Do you build it through experience?

How do we truly build resiliency without breaking down self-esteem and self-concept?

How do we inspire or motivate without breaking the individual’s psyche?

I was very fortune to only have a few coaches that would play head games?

They tried their best to get the best out of me, I understand that now, but I didn’t respond to that type reinforcement.

In my word it was like psychological warfare.

I don’t think they realized that when I made a mistake, I felt bad enough.

Actually I felt devastated.

So that must make me weak right?

To be brutally honest, I’ve never taken criticism very well.

I’ve always felt threaten or attacked by it.

I felt like I was called out in some way.

There’s a big difference between constructive criticism and playing head games.

Carrying your heart on your sleeve is hard, especially at a very young age.

I remember being so down.

I remember feeling inferior, feeling unwanted, feeling like I was failure and that I let the team down.

Head games work for some and sometimes they don’t.

Did I become more resilient because of the head games?

Honestly, I don’t know.

Did I use head games during my coaching career?

There’s no doubt I did, but did I ever attack a player in front of their teammates?

Hell no, at least I hope I didn’t.

You see that’s where all of this can go awry.

Everyone involved has a different opinion on what is said.

For the coach it’s an innocent way of motivation.

For the player it’s an attack.

Different methodology, different perspective, different messaging.

The coach has a responsibility to the team.

The player has a responsibility to the team.

The coach should be held accountable, just like the player, but at what cost?

Why are some coaches or any one in authority or in a position of power for that matter playing head games?

I guess it all goes back to the philosophy and culture that those in power want portrayed, upheld and reinforced.

You see that brings the conformity aspect of the game to the forefront yet again.

Some players are exempt from the wrath of head games while others are constantly bombarded by it.

Those that escape the wrath say nothing even though at times the head games that are being followed through downright cross the line.

I don’t have all the answers.

I know what I have experienced and the head games I’ve faced.

I know what I feel and felt when head games are being carried out.

Psychology warfare is crippling, it’s the worst.

To know better, is do better, but head games still hurt to this day.  

I guess, I am resilient, but that’s certainly not because of head games, that’s just because of who I am.

In my opinion, head games don’t belong in the game, in the classroom or in any walk of life.

Let’s start communicating more effectively, let’s leave the head games in the past.

Let’s find the pulse of every player and person.

Let’s motivate and inspire.

One comment

  1. head games contribute to low self-esteem, there is no place for this kind of debilitating criticism, whether it is in the sports arena, school or work place…humiliation isolates an individual and allows the pack to become brutal in its association toward the individual that is being singled out in this negative way…thank you for your perspective on this volatile issue…those that do believe in this method, usually believe in brute force no matter the cost.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.