April 20, 2022
It was an uncharacteristically warm, sunny afternoon in late September, and I was standing on the edge of the pool at Stafford Hills. My high school swimmers were in the middle of their workout, and I was observing their technique and making corrections to their stroke. The goal is to make them faster and more efficient in the water.
Alex wasn’t getting it.
He had a great work ethic, but his freestyle was sloppy and incredibly inefficient. What he lacked in speed, he made up for in thrashing in the water. The effort was there, but the technique was not.
I asked him to get out of the pool so I could demonstrate the stroke I was looking for. We practiced on the pool deck for a minute or two before he rejoined the other swimmers. With his back turned to me, I heard him mumble, “I don’t think you know what a good coach is.” I stood there stunned as he dove into the pool.
“I don’t think you know what a good coach is.”
I should have stopped him and asked him to explain. I could have learned something. Instead, I stood there mildly annoyed, with my ego telling me, “That kid’s an idiot. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
Unfortunately, I missed a teachable moment.
I’ve always liked how the late Tom Landry, iconic coach of the Dallas Cowboys, explained what a coach is:
“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”
A coach is more than a cheerleader, although I think good coaches are cheerleaders, too. And sometimes a coach needs a little coaching himself.
There’s a reason why we don’t want someone sharing a hard truth or pointing out where we can improve. It stings when someone points out a flaw or weakness and says, “You can do better.”
The Bible calls this form of communicating a correction, reprove or rebuke (2 Timothy 4:2).
This view of coaching is true in any sport, but it’s also true in life. Done in love, it’s a powerful tool to bring out the best in people—in the pool or in life.
We’ll look at this more over the next few weeks.
In case you are wondering, I’m still coaching Alex. He has improved as a swimmer, and I think I’ve improved as a coach. He’s a high school senior now and has grown into an outstanding leader for our team.
I was honored when Alex invited me to speak at his Boy Scout Eagle Ceremony. I used it as an opportunity to talk about teachable moments, missed opportunities and the growth that comes when you hear something you don’t want to hear.
Register today for these awesome men’s events:
Men’s Breakfast | April 23rd
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Father + Daughter Camp | April 29-May 1
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Forged 002: Building Men for Life | May 7
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