Of course, I may be projecting!
One of the roads to clarity on Monday's mental meander is to think before posting! But possibly more helpful is, in amongst some of the other ideas, is to think about "Dodgeball" (yes, the 2004 movie) for a second.
"I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don't have one, then you are never disappointed. And I got to tell ya...it feels phenomenal"
Self-sabotage. In Peter Law Fleur's case it is appears as more explicit in the not setting goals and then not working towards anything. For many more it is a far more insidious authoring of our own demise.
Hold on, before you get too upset, let me clarify - few people actively set out to lose (and those who tend to get accused, prosecuted and fined for match-fixing) but nonetheless, we're setting ourselves up for a fall.
In terms of missing training defeat is not the objective but by taking the field under-cooked or as a group of individuals you are stacking the deck against you.
What's that all about? As Peter highlights it's about protecting yourself. In that case from the risk of failing to achieve and the attendant feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy. I would suggest that there will be a creeping feeling of confirmation of lack of worth/ability as a result of this failure. There is another side to that of course, if you succeed in spite of the lack of preparation you may get a little extra boost to the ego (often short-lived as thoughts of "spawny git" come to mind).
For others the the root of the sabotage is in fear of success. Possibly an array of self-issues around worthiness; or conditioned response to relying on others; or conditioned response to comparison of your needs/goals with others - "don't be selfish"; or about what you might lose if you succeed - friends, fun, league dominance, comfort ("some people are afraid of comfort"... of course, if you have not seen that Dara O'Briain show, that is just going to seem really random!). And there's the problem, this process doesn't make sense as when we look at it we can see the long-term benefits that are being pushed aside in the name of the short-term protection afforded by the behaviour. As such, it's easy to dismiss the self-handicapping as nonsense.
These are all very subjective, very personal to the individual. As a team coach you can try to draw out these subtexts but your time and access to your athletes may be limited. With one-to-one access you have more time and probably feel a duty to try to resolve these but this is barely touching the surface of the issue, be aware of your own limitations and expertise.
Blimey! So, what can you do?
Keep having the conversations (not a soliloquy in front of an audience of players) about where we are going together. Keep building the environment where failure is an acceptable risk, learning and movement is what we are about. It's difficult in a sports environment but that standard locker room banter can be putting the brakes on; watch what you're praising and taking the mickey out of. You need a strong, resolute, competition-hardened squad who are comfortable with each other before personal comments can be entirely taken in jest. As a coach your permission for this is much more limited than as one of the squad - that's life! Keep an eye out for those who curse themselves at every turn - don't rationalize it, treat it as though somebody else had said it to them - what would you do?
Self-sabotage? And you thought you had enough issues worrying about the opposition!
We are a strange blend of complex and simple. Transparent and murky. Independent and needy. Frustrating and rewarding to work with. It's never dull and where there is any fun for a coach it is in that! Oh yes, and in seeing the achievement of your players!
Onwards and upwards fellas. Onwards and upwards.