Real Madrid’s lack of success at Santiago Bernabéu resulted in the dismissal of Rafael Benitez. Player Gareth Bale has publically showed his displeasure at the termination of Benitez and the appointment of new manager Zinedine Zidane. In response to Bale, Zidane “acknowledged that Bale was ‘annoyed’ at the decision and added that he would ‘give him all my affection and support’ to reassure him of his importance.” Turnover of coaches is not uncommon in the world of elite sports. It is understandable that players may have emotional responses to changes in coaching, especially as they develop relationships and trust for those with whom they play. However, it is the job of the athlete to manage his or her emotion and remain dedicated to playing the sport well. It is especially crucial for highly accomplished players, such as Bale, to refocus on the things that are in their control. It can be easy to feel and show frustration when playing out of position or for a new coach, but remaining competitive and dedicated to playing your sport well is the ultimate job of an athlete. In terms of coaching, it is also important to recognize that the coach-athlete relationship is a two-way relationship. Just as it is important for the coach to remain dedicated and supportive towards his or her team, it is also important for the athlete to show equal respect and willingness to learn. Acknowledging the positive aspects that a new coach provides can help ease the transition and begin an effective and trusting relationship between coach and player.
You will face changes and challenges as a player; they are inevitable. The two things that you need to do are focus on what you can control and recognize the positives. A player can still control his or her response to a change or challenge, and this response can make or break a future performance. When a stressful situation arises, a player should make an effort to step back and try to objectively evaluate the situation, their role, and how to best move forward. Ultimately, it is the player’s job to perform, and the player can only do so successfully when he or she adapts to change and remains focused on the task at hand. A player can continue to perform at his or her best by channeling energy towards remaining dedicated, giving strong effort in practice and games, and upholding respect for teammates and coaches. For the things that are out of a player’s control, a player should focus on what is positive about the situation. A new coaching staff may provide new opportunities with different drills or styles of coaching and new lessons to be learned. The experiences that a coach like Zidane can provide could give Bale new opportunities if he is open to listening. Focusing on what is good and can be gained in a new situation can keep a team from obsessing over what is uncomfortable.