top of page

Everything Was Great. Then I Wrote the Lineup!

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

Mindset Made Simple Tip #72

To watch or listen, click HERE.

My dad was a coach. In fact, he and my uncle were amazing coaches leading athletes to state championships, college scholarships and providing constant support to their professional careers in track and field.

As you can imagine, we had A LOT of coaching discussions (still do). I only wish I would have called on his knowledge and advice earlier and more often in my career, but we all learn…eventually!

One conversation I remember distinctly was around playing time. My dad’s sport was much easier (in my opinion). The clock says whether you get a spot or not. But we all know there is much more to winning a track meet than a clock, so maybe it’s not that easy.

Either way, this particular discussion included this story…you may want to remember it when it is time to write the lineup! 😊

A high school basketball coach had all his players out on the court for the jump ball. The referee was about to line up at center court and advised the coach that he needed to remove 6 of his players from the court. The anxious players looked over to the bench. The coach motioned for all the players to stay on the court.

A few more seconds passed and the referee, now clearly agitated, told the coach to clear the court of the extra players or he would start the game with a technical foul. The coach ignored the advice and told the players to remain on the court.

The now furious referee, supported by a dumbfounded crowd, issued a technical and advised the players to line up for the technical foul shot…with the shooter at the line and the others behind the half-court line.

The coach stood fast in keeping all his players on the court.

The referee, ready to issue another technical, storms over to the coach to escort him from the court.

Before the referee gets the chance to send him packing, the coach turns around to the stands and says “see, I told you they all can’t play!”

And that is the truth…they all can’t play.

The other truth is, that most of those who come to play for us have always played. All is well as prepare, talk about roles and their importance and emphasize team.

THEN…we write a lineup…and at least half the team is not happy (and even a few of those in the lineup aren’t happy because they are playing the position they want or hitting in the spot they think they should).

Now what?

How do we keep those players not playing the role they dreamed of motivated and productive?

Notice, I did not say “happy!”


You know how this goes. When things don’t go our way, we start to catastrophize. “I’m not starting.” “I’m not producing.” “I’m never going to get a chance.” And the thoughts go on and on…

If we can keep our players focused on ONE DAY AT A TIME, and the thoughts and actions that will keep them moving toward their goals by thinking about WHAT IS IMPORTANT NOW or NEXT may help keep them in a more positive mindset.

Lineups change. People get hurt, have off days and get into foul trouble.

Getting into an “I’m not starting” mindset and allowing it to affect our attitude, energy and effort can set us up for failure if and when an opportunity arrives.

Thinking too far into the future distracts us and precludes us from being PRESENT. The only time we can influence what is going on is NOW!

Worrying about the future will not change it. Planning for what will help us prepare and improve TODAY can help us help ourselves and our team!

Another tip that helps us keep perspective is the power of the word YET!

Encouraging our athletes to follow up all those catastrophizing statements with “YET” adds a sense of hope.

“I’m not starting…yet.” “I can’t hit that pitch…yet.”

This simple word encourages a GROWTH MINDSET and keeps us moving forward instead of ruminating on the things that frustrate us and can ignite our negativity bias.

“YET” implies that we will keep working and have not reached our final destination! This simple word encourages us to see our challenges as opportunities and follow the process understanding we do not control the outcome – but we do control the effort, attitude and energy with which we work!

To enhance both of these perspective adjustment tools, implementing our visualization skills can help us make the most of our forward-thinking mindset.

Encouraging our athletes on the bench to put themselves in the game in their minds can help them stay present and engaged AND improve their skills.

Lewis Howes, the host of The School of Greatness podcast, watched world-class pole vaulters over and over and imagined himself doing what they did and eventually went on to become an All-American decathlete. The same practice can help us improve as we visualize ourselves in the game, making the moves of the person playing in our position on the field or court.

Visualizing our skills and moves also allows us to learn the tendencies of our opponents, so if and when we do get in the game, we have already “faced them” which builds confidence in our ability to perform.

The question for those not in the lineup is, what will you do with your time? Will you approach your situation as a challenge and opportunity to improve or will you let that innate negativity bias cloud your mind and trick you into thinking there is nothing you can do to get better today?

There is no way to make everyone happy with playing time all the time. BUT, there are always things we can do to help guide them toward a mindset that will allow them to succeed, even when the situation is less than what they expected (which will happen to them more times in life than they realize!).

The “one day or play at a time” mindset, the power of YET, and using our amazing brain to visualize ourselves doing what we want and need to do can help us stay focused on moving positive performance and away from disappointment and frustration.

This gives us a much better chance of being successful if and when the opportunity arises!

These simple shifts in perspective will fall on a lot of deaf ears. But the reality is, everyone can’t start. So providing alternate ways of looking at things gives everyone a choice.

What they do with it from there is on them!

I’m not an expert in all of the tips, yet…but I’ll keep sharing those that may help 😊!


P.S. I’d love to work with you and those you lead. Let’s plan a time to chat about how my programs and tools can help your athletes or employees handle pressure and perform at their best!

Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946




bottom of page