During football practice yesterday (4,5,6 graders), I sent one of our players off to run a lap after I heard him using negative words toward a team mate. While he was running his lap, I spoke to the rest of the group (not the whole team, just the part who was with me at the time) about negative words, and the consequence that they carry at practice. Here’s pretty much what I said:
I just sent one of your team mates to run a lap because he told one of you guys, “you suck.” I’ve heard many of you say things like, “you suck,” “that was terrible,” “you can’t get anything right,” and other things that I’m not going to mention. If I hear anything like that again, you will run. I LOVE running, and have no problem sharing my love of running with everyone. Instead of calling out people for their mistakes using negative words, let’s use encouraging words instead, ok, everyone?
They all went back to the drill, lead by one of the other coaches. When my runner came back, he came to me and said that his helmet was hurting him and could I please take a look at it. While he was standing with me, I quietly said, “do you understand why I had you run?” He said that he did. I said, “while you were running, I gave a little talk about negative words and the consequence for using them during practice.” He said, “I know, I could hear you.” Then I said, (and honestly I’m not sure where this part came from, but…), “there are lots of kids here who get told things like ‘you suck’ and ‘you’re no good’ and ‘you can’t do anything right’ waaaaay too often. Some hear it all day at home, and they don’t need to hear it here, too. Let’s try to spread some positivity, ok?” I thought he was gonna cry when he looked at me and said, “ok, Coach.” His helmet adjusted, he got back in line for the drills and finished off practice.
At the end of practice, we get all of the kids together and wrap up how things went, what to expect for the next practice, etc. When it came my turn to speak, I gave my talk about doing away with negative feedback and replacing it with positive comments. I also stressed that I had no problem making people run laps. The other coaches agreed, the kids said that they understood, and all was right in the world.
For the rest of us…let’s ALL try to do away with negative words and replace them with positive feedback or constructive criticism. I know we can do it. Let’s lead by example.
Until next time,