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The Trust Exercise


Have you seen the trust exercise? The one where someone is supposed to fall backwards and trust their partner will catch them? I never liked this one, I definitely have trust issues.

If you are on a team that lacks trust, then it becomes a group of people who never move anywhere. Who just stand there deadlocked and unable to progress.  Imagine the person who is supposed to fall is saying “I know you aren’t going to catch me, I’m not going to fall back.” The person who is supposed to catch her is saying, “I know she doesn’t believe I’ll catch her, she’s never going to fall, I’m not even going to try.”  So, there they are, unmoving, frozen in their lack of trust.

Teams play like this all the time, not unified, leaving their position to take over someone else’s, selfish with the ball, easily frustrated and blaming without giving someone a chance.  The more players are on the field with trust issues, the more blaming and frustration you have as everyone is pointing a finger until you have a cyclical breakdown. Dominoes.

Trust must be built. But a team that lacks trust also blocks it from ever having a chance to build.  You must start with belief, and then grow trust with faith. That takes a willingness on both sides to be vulnerable in order to move forward to a positive future result.  Yes, your teammate is human and will let you down at some point and time, but you MUST believe they are going to be there for you if you are going to move forward.

The person who wants to fall back in the trust test must communicate to their partner, “I believe you will catch me, I want you to know how important it is that I am putting this belief in you, and I’m asking you to do everything you can to honor that with your actions.” The partner should communicate back the message that, “I understand your faith in me is a gift, I’m going to be here for you, you will trust me going forward because I will act to protect this belief you have placed in me.”

On the other side of trust is the honor and value in the trust being placed in you. Belief is a gift. You can’t buy it, ask for it, demand it. But you can take it for granted and waste it or destroy it if you don’t value it for the priceless gift that it is. If someone tells me they believe I can and will do something, I’m going to hold that in my pocket and protect it at all costs. I’m going to find a way to live up to that. If someone lays that belief down for you then you hold on and you honor it and you put actions behind that make that belief something real.

Here’s how a lack of trust can play out on your field using lacrosse as an example.  Low defender named SallyX sees the ball carrier on the opposing team coming down the field covered by a player she feels isn’t going to stop her.  She leaves a dangerous, low, adjacent player to go help when adequate coverage is already there. The first pass is made over SallyX’s head to her girl who is now open.  Meanwhile across the way another defender, ShellyZ,  sees SallyX leaving to go high and help and rolls her eyes, “she always does that!” she is screaming in her head as she leaves her low adjacent girl to go cover the open player. The second pass is made over ShellyZ’s head. The goalie who has been watching this mess unfold yet AGAIN and feels powerless to stop it is pointing at the shifting and yelling for help when the ball is tossed into the net, again.

If you have drilled over and over the skills and the technical movements but the team breaks down in a game situation, you may not have an X and O problem. You may not have a knowledge problem. Or a lack of athleticism. Or even a lack of focus.  You may in fact, have a trust problem.  The root of many breakdowns on a team is found very often, in your culture. This is why teams who put culture first come out on top, even more so than teams that spend more time drilling, practicing, studying or running.

Fix your trust issue. Build a belief-based foundation, with high value placed on the gift of receiving that trust, and see what happens come game time.

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