by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
Restaurants in the southern US are known for sweet-tea. A special blend of tea, ice and sugar. Lots of sugar.
Sweet-tea is great for the restaurant since it brings in customers.
And the customers get a nice sugar and caffeine buzz.
I subscribe to the philosophy that an occasional sweet-tea can be beneficial.
Especially when it’s of the mental variety.
For example, at a World Championship event I was one of the team leaders for the U.S. team. One afternoon, returning from practice, we exited the team bus and headed for the dining hall.
I led the pack.
My left shoe lace got stuck in my right shoe, and I went flying. I wiped-out in front of our team, and hundreds of other athletes and coaches. I didn’t just trip, I pancaked into a big pile of dust.
Embarrassed, I got up, and limped over to a nearby bench.
As I brushed myself off, one of the team coaches came over. He was an Olympic medalist, and World champion. He went out of his way to come over sit down.
“One of the best wipeouts I’ve seen in years,” he said. “If that was a belly-flop contest you would have been a contender!” I looked at him, he smiled and said, “I’ve done a lot worse.”
And off he went.
His dose of mental sweet-tea was perfect.
The bitter taste of crashing-and-burning left my mouth. I soon found myself laughing over how silly I must have looked.
The following day — I can honestly say — I cheered extra hard for his team.
Why Should You Care?
The experience of coaching and playing are becoming more stressful each day. Seldom do coaches or athletes get the warm and fuzzy feelings that used to exist.
Because of our position as coach, our words carry weight. (It doesn’t matter what word goes before “coach,” such as head, or assistant, or volunteer.)
Admit it or not, simple utterances from us can often make or break someone’s day.
I see coaches repeatedly pressured, and pressuring others, to perform at a higher level. The joy can disappear in those environments.
Often a dose of sweet-tea can make a big difference. It doesn’t take much — something as small as a wink or a smile might do the trick.
Action You Can (and should) Take
For one week, try this … each morning scan around for someone who is struggling.
A peer, an athlete, a friend.
Lay a glass of sweet-tea on them (literally or figuratively — your choice). Expect nothing back, just serve up. Then see what comes back to you.
As coaches, it’s nice to be on the receiving end of sweet-tea. But the power truly lies in serving it.
And it makes a better experience for everyone