The Truth or the Honey? It’s more than a game.
One of the phrases that we use with our players, whether it be at a clinic, a camp or as part of the teams that we volunteer to coach is “Do you want the truth or do you want the honey?”
Every player likes to hear when they do something well and as coaches and parents we should latch on to those good things making 100% sure that we let the athlete know that a) we noticed and that b) we are proud of them. A positive experience is going to cultivate more positive experiences. The athlete is going to continue to improve, not because they are afraid of “getting it in the ear on the way home”, but because the rush of doing something well and having your parent experience it with you is something that they want to feel over and over again. Sharing good moments with the people you love is what life is about.
Focus on the good, but don’t ignore the bad.
Athletes want the truth as much as they need it. They want to know when they didn’t perform well.
If you only comments regarding their performance are ever “great game” or “good shift” then you are doing them a disservice. The honey is sweet for a short time, but how do they learn to overcome adversity, become resilient and grow if everything is always perfect? What happens when in the future they don’t do a great job and their boss tells them so? Will they have the tools to deal with the hurdles that life puts in their way?
Athletes rely on their coaches and their parents to give them the information that they need to improve. The truth helps them grow. It isn’t always positive, but it can be delivered in a positive way.
A good coach holds his or her players accountable. My team of 9 and 10-year old girls always wants the truth. They know that our coaching staff loves them and that telling them the truth isn’t being mean, it’s just the truth. We then ask them how as a team we will overcome our challenges. They come up with the answers, are invested in them and subsequently do amazing things.
Support the athletes. Ask good questions and let them come up with the solutions. Don’t just tell them what to do.
Encourage them. Latch on to the positive moments and ensure that you let the player know that you are proud of them.
Step back. Let them do their thing without constant guidance.
Remember, you don’t coach a sport. You coach a person. Let them embrace the process. You’re in this together.
The picture that is attached to this post is a team after a championship game. The medals around their necks are Lower Lakes Best of the Best Silver Medals. These are incredibly hard to win. Many of the girls are in tears, distraught, barely able to keep their composure at all. At first glance you might think that they were crying because they lost. Not so. They were crying because our season was over. Something incredible and wonderful had come to an end. They were devastated.
That guy crouched down in the middle of the circle is me, trying not to cry myself while I read out our motto one last time. The girls had read it themselves all year, but they asked me to do it for the final time. What an honour.
If you deliver the truth in a positive way your players will embrace it, invest in it and crave it. They know that you aren’t being hurtful. You are being helpful. They know that you care. They know that you want only the best for them. Those relationships don’t end with the season does. You form life-long ties with magnificent people who are going to do incredible things, perhaps in part because when they were young you took the time to tell them the truth in a positive light rather than taking the easy road and just giving them the honey.