Teaching Resilience

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Photo credit – https://soccermommanual.com/coaching-from-the-bench-what-crosses-the-line/

Resilience is one of those mythical qualities that is highly sought after for high performance athletes in all sports.  You can often hear coaches talk about the resilience, or lack therefore, of their teams, and about steps they are taking to develop in their teams.

I certainly agree that resilience is highly desirable. There are innumerable situations during the course of a practice / week / match / season which create disappointments both small and large for individual players and teams.  How resilient those players and teams are to those disappointments is an important factor in quality of the team.

So how to develop that resilience?  It was suggested to me recently that coach’s anger (yelling, screaming etc) during practice specifically creates the conditions that allow resilience to develop.

So this is the question… are coaches who resist displays of anger during their work actually doing their players a disservice?

I’m interested in your thoughts.


  1. One thing that yelling definitely does create is the ‘fight or flight’ response in athletes. When this is triggered, the learning part of the brain is ‘deactivated’. So, if you are yelling, you may be creating AN environment where resilience can be learned, but you are also limiting learning capacity in the athletes. My point is that this might not be the most efficient way to teach.

    So, to your question, coaches who resist displays of anger in practice are NOT doing their players a disservice. Ultimately it has nothing to do with displays of anger. Resilience, like anything, is learned through experience and reflection (or rote? – difference discussion perhaps). Whether or not a coach yells is not the point, are they facilitating learning so that any ‘conditions for learning’ are optimised? A coach who decides to yell before attending to this is doing himself and his team a disservice.


  2. I can see the point that coping with angry, loud and threatening behaviour is one component of resilience. However resilience from disappointment, failure, pain, frustration, trauma and tragedy is not built be enduring uncontrolled blasts from a coach, teacher or parent.

    Strategically using shouting in an intentional may have a very minor role to play in developing an athlete who seems to lack skills in this specific area – to prepare them for less evolved future coaches? However I see no value going down this path until I have put a great deal of effort into developing resilience in all of those other areas in an athletes life and had sufficient relationship developed to not damage the athlete’s trust.


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