What does it mean when an athlete talks back to his or her coach? Is he or she being insubordinate? What does talking back sound like…or look like? Is the communication always verbal?
At one point in my coaching career, a player talking back to a coach was viewed as an affront to authority. Bo Schembechler taught me long ago attacking a problem immediately and head on – if not the best option – was always better than avoiding the issue. The appropriate response was to put down the uprising.
Time and experience have revealed however, most often the insurrection represents the tip of an iceberg which has little to do with sport or your coaching. The outburst confirms the athlete’s recognition you love them. They are seeking your help with the “ice” lying beneath the surface.
Rolling eyes, sucking teeth or assuming a challenging body posture are usually similar pleas for engagement. Only by getting over ourselves and putting aside our own pride do we have a chance to get down to the heart of the matter with those over whom we have authority.
So put on the eyes of the Lord at practice. “Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)