I still remembered our conference championship race my junior year in college. With about a mile to go in the race, I was fading—fast. Passing through a crowd of close to a hundred fans on either side I can still hear my coach’s voice above the rest.
“Brian! You’re. Killing. Us.”
To be fair, I was. It was not one of my better races and I don’t fault my coach for pointing that out to me during the race. The issue is my coach habitually critiqued more than he affirmed. Each critique, while helpful, is often experienced as a debit. There is a cost associated with it. The more debits (critiques) you give as a coach, the harder it is for an athlete to receive them.
That's the next habit of a servant coach: affirmation.
Affirmation, a gift given by God, is the ability to find something good that someone is doing—or did—and to let them know about it. This means watching for what they are doing well and taking the time to tell them.
Words of affirmation are credits into the relational bank account of your athlete. Use them often. When it’s time to offer a timely critique, you won’t run the risk of over-drafting from their account.
Habit Forming Challenge: Get out your phone right now and affirm one of your athletes via text. It can be something as simple as this formula: Hey (their name), I just wanted to let you know that I saw (something they did or said) at practice and I want to you to know that (encourage them). Keep up the great work!