I’ll call them Coach Jekyll & Coach Hyde.
Their team was warming up. “These are the stupidest kids I’ve ever coached,” Jekyll said to Hyde.
I stopped, pretending my sneaker was untied.
With me eavesdropping, the conversation went downhill from there.
I left, found my son’s field, and started watching his game.
Thirty minutes later, with a break in the action and my curiosity burning a hole in my brain, I wandered back to Jekyll’s & Hyde’s field.
I watched. Listened.
Jekyll-Hyde were now telling their kids what great little players they were, encouraging them on to future greatness.
Coping Or Conning
I get the whole stress-thing about coaching. It can hit you in the head like a sledgehammer. Sometimes you do things in response to stress that make your mirror reflection look like a devil.
Somehow you’ve got to deal with that stress.
Maybe Jekyll-Hyde were just stress-coping with gallows humor.
Maybe they were mean-hearted.
Regardless, if they actually believed their tiny athletes were super dumb, “worthless” as one had uttered, then they were no better than a confidence artist running a con-job.
In that case, they were breaking a cardinal rule of coaching spots today.
Be Authentic Or Be Gone
Today’s young athletes have the attention-span of, catch this, 9 seconds.
N-I-N-E. Not 90, 9. That’s hummingbird fast.
Mom used to say, “You attract a hummingbird with sugar not salt.”
The sugar for today’s athletes is honesty.
They want REAL. Not a con-job.
And they can smell a con-job as fast as you can smell a cigarette on an airplane.
It doesn’t matter how big or little the athletes are.
Or how new or old of a coach you are.
An Invitation Not To Con
I’m not telling you how to coach. I’m just inviting you to try a few things.
I invite you to try to determine how you honestly feel about your athletes, their potential, the team, and THEN …
… try to be politely honest with your athletes. (There is a big difference between “You guys are dense,” and “Okay, we are struggling to understand.)
I invite you to try a positive approach when you feel negativity grabbing for your brain’s real estate.
Most importantly, I invite you to not con your athletes … or yourself.
Easier Written Than Done
I struggle with this.
It’s hard to level, even politely and honestly, when I know the person on the receiving end doesn’t want to hear my words. When it happens to me, when I’m on the receiving end, it hurts. But it is how I get better.
“Demanding, but not demeaning” is what I just read in an article about coaching.
“Honestly demanding and not demeaning,” I think is better.
No con-jobs. Looks much better to the athletes — and in the mirror.