Football and Life: Lessons From the Gridiron - part 2 Take Criticism

One of my favorite lessons learned through sports is needing to have the ability to take criticism whether it is “good” or “bad”. Being coddled does not help you get better. If becoming a better version of yourself is something that interest you then you must get used to hearing what you are good at and what could use some improvement.

During sport it did not matter if you wanted to hear it or not, you were going to get that feedback. I remember going over film, and our position coach most of the time would use the sandwich method when giving feedback. Something you do well, something you can improve on, followed by something else you do well or reiteration of what you are doing well. This method works really well when you want someone to actually take your criticism and utilize it. This method usually decreases the likelihood of the person receiving the criticism becoming defensive. Super important when you want to create change. Having said that, in certain situations, such as being apart of a team, you cannot expect everyone to be that tactful with their delivery of information. In other words, if you want to play, you’re gonna have to get over how someone said something to you and figure out if there is truth to what they are saying.

I remember the head coach called me out while I was playing scout team defense against the starting offense. He said I wasn’t putting in any effort and just started poppin off at the mouth in my direction. I was salty AF but the main thing that I was salty about was that he was right, I did not want to be there, I wasn’t putting in much effort at all. Here is the head coach calling me out. If I had chosen to shut down and continue to give no effort I would have been fast off of the field and would have lost playing time. As a walk-on, there wasn’t anything tying you to the team, they could get rid of you so fast, it’s not like they were paying for my classes, food or housing. Knowing that, I still popped off, I had my excuses firing back in my defensive state. Luckily for me, the next play I made a jump on the ball and picked off the pass and stared down the coach after the play. He was like "I guess I should just yell at you all the time." It was my desire to prove people wrong that allowed me to respond in an appropriate manner in that situation, it was not the ability to not get defensive. Though I was in school for psychology, the lessons I learned on the field stuck in my mind much better than the classroom. Being away from it for years now has allowed me to reflect and digest on past experiences to understand them better. Learn from me! Don’t get defensive as I did in this situation even if it worked out for the time being.

Actions always speak louder than words. Instead of attempting to talk your way out of why this other person believes what they believe about you, internalize it, digest it, dissect it, and let your actions show them differently. Or if you still think the criticism isn’t a fair judgment then move on. Don’t dwell on it. At the end of the day, you cannot control that person's opinion, you can only control your actions. The ability to take criticism is the best way to figure out how you can become a better you. Therefore, being open to criticism and welcoming criticism is important for self-development. Any way you can create an environment where people feel comfortable giving you their opinion, the better off you will be in the long haul.