Is complaining ruining your training session? Your teammates’ training session? Your coach’s ability to train you? You may think there’s no harm in venting your frustrations in this manner, but it’s likely having a lot more impact than you realize—and not a good one.
The habit of complaining when ‘things go wrong’ is one of the main culprits of an athlete’s inability to focus. Our focus is limited—we can either use it to exacerbate the things we don’t like (a missed lift, being tired, a tight back) or we can use our focus to move past and grow. Science tells us that we perform better when we focus on one task at a time. More so, we perform better when the two tasks we’re focused on aren’t in direct conflict—complaining while trying to improve.

Complaining also harms everyone around you, from your teammates to your coaches. For starters, just like complaining prevents you from focusing on growth, your complaining prevents your teammates from focusing on their own growth as they’re now focused on your problems. Complaining also creates a wall that prevents your coach from effectively training you. Understand that complaining is ego-based—these things are happening to me, why me? It creates a wall that obstructs your coach’s voice from truly being heard. If your mind is constantly repeating the same belief (‘I can never get double-unders’, ‘I suck at this’, ‘I’m too tired’), it’s going to be difficult for you to allow your coach to create a new belief (‘You can get double-under if you do this…’, ‘You don’t suck, you’re exactly where you need to be’, ‘Do what you can with the energy you have, that’s all that matters’).

Your time and focus are limited. You can use them to build walls and hinder your performance and overall experience or you can use them to grow—and help those around you grow. So, the next time you’re thinking of complaining, stop yourself, focus on the positive, press replay until you believe it, and move on.

Photo credit: © sasamihajlovic

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