The Power of Outside Affirmation, Can We Serve In This Way?

Over the past year, I have found my coaching heavily influenced by Joe Ehrmann‘s book Inside-Out Coaching:  How Sports Can Transform Lives, Todd Gongwer‘s book Leading for God’s Sake:  A Parable For Finding The Heart Of Leadership, and Jay Bilas‘s book Toughness:  Developing True Strength On And Off The Court.  Each of these books challenge the reader to think about WHY they are doing anything.

As coaches, we have to think about having a WHY that transcends wins and losses.  There is not a singular correct WHY, but coaches need to think about the reasons WHY they coach.  Are these reasons for coaching transformational, or transactional (Joe Ehrmann’s work)?  Is your coaching transforming and improving lives in a positive way, or only creating interactions interested in wins and the player doing what he/she is told?

I have recently defined my WHY as:  “To develop positive character through my platform by teaching the fundamentals that will translate to future endeavors”.

As I was watching this video from the Cleveland FCA on Leading For God’s Sake, I started thinking about my WHY and how the so-called “little things” are so crucial to success.  If I can assume the majority of coaches are using their platform to positively develop people, can coaches serve each other by providing outside affirmation to their players?  I think all coaches realize from time to time, our players may begin to “tune us out”.  As coaches, I think most people do not recognize the little things, the dirty work, the tough plays that lead to team success beyond the highlights of the shooter, the pitcher, the home run hitter, the touchdown scorer, the QB sacker.

What power would there be if an opposing coach came up to one of your players as said, “You are the best screener we play against, you do a great job getting your shooters open”.  “You always take the toughest offensive player and battle him for every point”.  “You play unbelievably great help defense, you drawing three charges in that last game changed the momentum to your team”.  “I heard you are in the top three academically of your class, you are the epitome of a student-athlete”.  TALK ABOUT AFFIRMING THE RIGHT THINGS!  This would only help and encourage players to continue to develop and enhance these little-recognized strengths.  We would truly be serving the sport and young people by doing this.  As coaches, we need all players to feel valued in their roles and in their strengths.

In developing these coaching partnerships, I envision the following process:  ask permission of your fellow coach; pull athlete aside in warmups for affirmation; ask fellow coach to do the same.   If we could serve each other as coaches in this way, think about the power of transferring this to everyday life….we are quick to complain, but do we go above and beyond to thank the people that serve us?  This could be the beginning of a whole revolution….professing our gratitude and respect, that’s my dream anyway.  We all know people who already serve others with the compliments, and we all know those people who are quick to complain as well.

There are some questions to this process, and I don’t know if I have the answers.  These include:

-we are competing to win, can we risk building up a player before a game?

-are we affirming the right things?  Should both coaches be present for this affirmation?

Tough choice….am I hurting my team’s chances of winning by boosting another team’s confidence?  Can I trust the other coach to affirm my player, or do I need to be present?   I have witnessed and read stories about this happening already, but usually only the stars receive it.  Again, I believe the guidelines could be laid out and permission given before the warmups begin.

I cannot wait to get back coaching on the sidelines to do this someday, I hope others think about this proposal and consider it.

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Have a great Monday!

Brothers should bunk

Last night, our family was out at the WRA Cabin in Miami University’s Natural Areas for the Outdoor Pursuit Center staff party, which Jen has been part of in a variety of roles.  I love this cabin and the feeling of isolation in nature.

As in their nature, Ryan and Sawyer felt the need to explore their environment while Matheus enjoyed many conversations with the students and FT staff..  They were intrigued by the stairs and loft, the fireplace, and the overall woodwork of the cabin (it is very neat).  The students are always welcoming to the boys and help Jen and I keep an eye on what they are doing.

During one of his tours, Ryan found a room in the cabin that had six sets of bunk beds.  This was a new experience for him and he had many questions about this setup, while we were climbing on all the beds to “try them out”.  In our conversation, I told Ryan that his Uncle Kevin, Uncle Tom, and myself, shared a room and bunked together at various points of our childhood.

Ryan loved hearing this and asked if he could do this with Sawyer.  What a great idea Ryan!  I told him we could set this up after Sawyer got a little bit bigger.

I love Ryan’s enthusiasm on this!  I think he intuitively knows this is a chance to further bond, interact, and create mischief with his little brother.  He’s right!  I remember Kevin and I doing this every night when we were growing up, and then when I got my own room, Kevin and Tom did this as well I am sure.  When Ryan told Jen about the bunking idea, she told him that her and Aunt Carrie bunked as well.  We have the space in our house to give them each their own room (which is the current setup), but we can bunk ’em.

For those of us who have bunked with our siblings, I am sure we have warm memories of staying up late and talking, laughing and giggling, throwing stuff down from the top bunk, getting in fights, and sneaking cookies without Mom and Dad knowing.  The “secrecy” of all this added to the excitement. and connection.

I am so thankful this situation presented itself, so Jen and I could be reminded of our memories, and to see Ryan get so excited about doing this with Sawyer.

I would love to hear your bunk bed memories.  Have a great day!

-Ron