by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
I’ve been coaching amateur athletes for a living for the past 34 years — mostly collegiate, but also pee wee and even international competitors.
During that time, I’ve worked with some really tough athletes.
And I’ve learned a very important thing from those tough athletes:
If you want to be tough you need to fall in love
The two voices
There is a loud and powerful voice that screams in most coach’s heads, and it sounds like this:
- If I fail, I will lose _________.
- If I do that, I’ll look dumb.
- I could never do that, I’m not smart enough.
I call that the FEAR VOICE.
This Fear Voice sucks. It does NOT instill toughness, but instead panic. It distracts. It paralyses. It causes stupid stuff to happen.
For instance, as I walked into the 1996 Olympic Stadium with the US team for the Opening Ceremonies the Fear Voice was totally in control. “Oh, my God, don’t trip. If I trip everyone in the World will see what a klutz I am.”
And, of course … I tripped.
Going down the ramp … in full glory … I’m sure it’s on tape somewhere.
That is what the stupid Fear Voice does to people.
The good voice
Ah … but there is another voice — the Love Voice. This voice says, “I love competing, and the results are meant to be.” In my case, my Love Voice would have said, “I love the chance to show off in front of people. Walking into this stadium will be great.”
The LOVE voice is positive. It is warm. It is happy. And it is tough (as hell).
All you need is love
In my book, love is infinitely tougher than fear. And it is a secret ingredient of being tough.
It may sound silly, until you see that it in action:
- What helps an athlete win a World Championships just days after his father passed away? Love.
- What helps a mother do, and do, and do, for her family? Love.
- What helps a Coach work crazy hours, take risks, while improving her World? Love.
Here’s an example … we have a two-time all-American on our team. She arrived there because she loves to test herself. Our conversations are all about her training and competing against herself and her LOVING that part of the journey. Her inner voice is NOT “beat others so I can be the best.” Instead, her mantra is “I’m loving this opportunity to find out who I am!”
Coaching with love
How can you put this Love Voice to use for you? Try these steps:
1) Determine what you need to do that requires toughness – I need to recruit 5 student-athletes this year.
2) What is the part of that you Fear – Asking people to make a commitment to your school/team.
3) What is the part of this you Love, and give it a voice – I love recruiting because it helps athletes find a great place for them to further their education!
4) When the Fear Voice appears drown it out with the Love Voice – “I love helping student-athletes find their inner strengths, and asking them to commit to my school/team is good for them and their future.
You will find power through that love. Athletes do all the time. Love is what makes tough people tough.
And you in 2015
Is there a place for such talk as “love in coaching” in 2015? Not just a place, a big need. Athletes need, today more than ever, to have positive vibes sent their way. Not because they are spoiled, or lazy, or don’t care. Instead, because the expectations on them are enormous, the support dwindling, their goals lofty.
Will love help you get where you want to go? To convince athletes, supporters, parents to do what needs to be done? Well … what catches more flies, honey or vinegar?
PS: Coaching can be pretty lonely. Do you have a plan to stay connected with your social support group in 2015?