Keep Your Word

Last week I posted about the importance of being honest with your athletes. In my post for today I am going to keep along similar tones and encourage coaches to keep their word. This includes keeping your word to school administrators, athletes, opposing coaches, and your own assistant coaches. Sometimes it may be difficult to stand by something that you have promised; however, to keep your integrity and any semblance of trust that you have earned, you need to always keep your word.

honest abe

When it comes to school administrators, they are going to ask your help with things. Examples would be supervising school events, attending school functions, and dealing with administrative issues that might arise. It is  good idea to try to volunteer when possible as it is good for the school and your image. However, if you agree to something, you must follow through on the agreement. On occasions I have found myself frustrated because I agreed to supervise a school event ahead of time and had a lot of other things pop up the day of the event. It would look very poorly upon me if I backed out at the last-minute, especially if it was not for an emergency. Do not agree to something with your administration unless you plan to follow through.

When dealing with your athletes, it is always important to keep your word and this can be both for rewards and punishments. When you want to incentivize something for your team, it can be an excellent idea to offer a reward such as a team dinner in lieu of a conditioning workout. If you promise something, no matter what circumstances might change, you need to follow through on what was promised. On the other hand, if you have a punishment in place for violation of a team rule, you need to follow through on this as well.

A great example of a tough situation for me was when I had a player disrespect the crowd in a game right before Christmas. She was assessed a technical foul and to make matters worse, we lost the game by the two points that the opponent earned on the free throws. My rule that year was that any technical foul earned by an athlete for a behavioral issue would result in a one game suspension. The really tough part was that the technical foul was earned by my top scorer. If I sat her out for the next game, we risked losing the opening game of a tournament. In the end, I valued my integrity and keeping my word over winning a basketball game and sat her out. As a teacher, this was a teachable moment where I wanted to show everyone that actions do have consequences.

With your assistant coaches it is a no-brainer that you must be honest with them and follow through on what you promise them. Even when it comes to opposing coaches, you need to follow through on promises made. I had a year where I got a scout tape from the coach of another school and promised to give them any film they asked for in exchange at any point in the year. Sure enough, we ended up playing this opponent in the first round of the playoffs. The opposing coach called in the favor and asked me for a film of my own team. Even though I knew it would hurt my chances, I felt the importance of keeping my word was far more valuable than winning that ball game. We lost in overtime but I kept my integrity and honor in the process.


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