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  • John Saintignon

The Power of Your Voice

Updated: Jun 9


This blog post is not going to sit well with some of you due to the mature and harsh language that will be used, so I urge you to use caution when looking at this.  


However, there are coaches who have humiliated others, publicly and privately.


This intense pressure needs to be addressed and I am going to as my son asked me this weekend as we were watching ESPN and the interview with Jadlow and his new book and the issues with Bobby Knight.  My son asked me if I ever had a coach like that?  It forced me to dig deep into trying to help coaches understand what resides in their control.


You have to remember that as a coach at any level, you have extraordinary power in the lives of the athletes that you interact with, or as I like to say, those under your supervision.  Your position in their life, your presence; you hold their dreams in your hands.  You are the person who is going to help them fulfill what they believe to be their destiny.


If you believe in them, if you support them, if you reach deep inside of yourself and give them a sense of empowerment, they can and will do extraordinary things.  You will be an enormous force in their life.  However, with that same power, you can tear them apart just the same and in some cases they are never going to be the same.


Listen to the interview Todd Jadlow and Bobby Knight life out of control.


Bobby Knight Halftime Speech


There is also an extremely powerful movie that I have seen from time to time to remind me and others of what happens when you are out of control.  The movie Whiplash is intense and the scene that I am about to provide, has intense scenes, language, and should be viewed in light of what it brings to you, the emotions that are evoked.


Remember a couple of poignant facts that the coach is pushing them to be all that they can become.  And in the movie when he draws the line in the sand by saying this is what winners are and what losers loo like well that was for his own needs.  You see many coaches do this to feel that they are successful.  For their reputation.  It's wrong.  I speak about this all the time here in US and in other countries where it is looked upon that a coach who yells and screams must be a good coach.


Most coaches have no clue of the power they have in the lives of the people that they teach.


Remember that every word, behavior, tone you use goes not just to the one person that you are directing that to, it's to the entire team, whether they are being spoken to directly or not, including staff members who listen to it as well.


I agree with the premise that most coaches believe in pushing their athletes beyond their limits.  That process is difficult to say the least, but it doesn't have to get abusive.  Couldn't you challenge another way?  Couldn't you challenge your athletes without using fear?


One thing to keep in mind in the movie, the drummer is driven, even if the coach wasn't there.  But it was so extreme, he was driving himself crazy.


When you coach players that have this drive that is over the top because they want to be successful, the question you need to ask yourself is, is that drive from within because they are trying to be something?  Or is it to make themselves feel more important because there is something lacking inside of them?


Why do people endure the emotional abuse in order to get to the next level?


That answer that my son asked me, was yes, I did play for a coach like that, who challenged me, pushed, demonstrative.  But I took the time to know him, to learn that he had care for me, that he loved me, and that he accepted me for who I was.  This was demonstrated off the court by him taking the time to talk to me, put his arm around me, be there for my Dad's funeral as I was one year removed from his coaching me.  Thus I was able to understand that his ranting and raving on the sidelines was only pressure and that I was able to withstand that better knowing that I could be the one having the calming effect on him.


I would be the one to accept responsibility for the actions of our team.  This allowed me to help them simply play for each other on the court.  It allowed my coach the outlet for his frustration to me, as I was able to take it.  No one ever said it would be easy, but we all found a solution that worked for us all.

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