Like it or not, one thing and one thing alone remains constant–change. All facets of life, including business, education, technology, and even sports, are subject to change; without it, none of them would be successful.
Although change opens up opportunities for advancement and ultimately increases the likelihood of success, internally triggering transformational change proves challenging for many organizations, particularly those in the sports industry. Athletes, coaches, and other leaders in the sports industry are not any different from the rest of us in having a hardwired tendency to see change as a threat.
In this article, we will discuss ten significant factors that make it challenging to implement change in sports.
Why is it so difficult to introduce change in sports?
- Sport is incredibly conservative.
Sport is incredibly conservative. It is more resistant to change than almost any other area of society, and some people will resist change to the point of seeing the club or sport fail if it means changing their beliefs and position.
- Resistance to change by top sports officials
In the sports industry, there is always that one senior hard-headed official who actively works against change. They believe that every sport has a distinctive culture that they must preserve and transmit, and they also assume their team or club is unique in the world and doesn’t require change.
Such an official would prefer to stick with the same old routine or older methods that they have historically found to be effective than accept any kind of change.
- Resistance to Change by athletes
There are a lot of reasons why athletes resist change. They might believe the change will affect them negatively, be excessively difficult, or result in insufficient rewards. And if you’re a new coach attempting to change a technique they learned from their previous coach, the odds are far worse. They may perceive you as less credible and resist the change.
The desire for change is the most powerful driving force for change. Unless one is dissatisfied with where they’re currently at, knows what needs to be improved, and is sincerely committed, they will not change and will most likely resist any kind of change.
Since most athletes and teams are accustomed to their regular activities, this is one of the biggest obstacles change agents must overcome when attempting to implement change in the sports industry. So if an athlete is content with their performance, or if the coach and the entire team are satisfied with the team’s performance and do not see any reason for a change, they will most likely not give it a chance. It’s that simple.
- Absence of clear vision
As a change agent, you may have a vision of what this change could bring in the future, but if the athletes, entire team, and officials can’t get a clear picture of that vision, they will not change. A change agent must communicate how this change will benefit the team in the future so that they can envision themselves performing at a high-level courtesy of that change.
- Strategic planning
Even if there is a desire for change and a clear vision of what the future of that change holds, there will be no future without a strategic plan designed to implement that change. So, after articulating a clear vision, the change agent needs to have an articulate plan on how the entire team can go through the change process and achieve that envisioned future.
One thing is common to all change agents- ridicule. Real innovators, lateral thinkers, and change agents must first take on the conservative thinkers in the field who will deride their desire for change as foolish, ignorant, and ridiculous.
Change agents must endure days, weeks, months, or even years of ridicule, fighting, and other challenges before they can bring about real change and ensure the sport advances.
- Time and effort
Although change is constant, it does take some time and effort to see its results, and this is where the difficulty lies. Going through the discomfort, uncertainty, routine, and daily tasks and consistently putting in the work for the change you want to implement is exhausting.
Athletes may grow impatient, demotivated, doubt the process of change, and even be willing to return to their old routine within this period, making it difficult to strive for change.
- Fear of the unknown
There’s only one reason we all perceive fear as a threat—fear. Even with a clear vision and an articulate plan, the fear of the unknown still lingers, and it’s hard to face the unknown.
Athletes and sports officials have different levels of fear and resistance to change. Some people are less resistant to change, while others are so resistant that moving them is like hauling a rock. It may require an enormous amount of highlighting their dissatisfaction, painting a clear vision for the future, and giving them a quality process to get them to make a change.
However, once they gain momentum and overcome that initial inertia, they will start shifting in the direction you want them to go, and you can make that change.