What would your team look like if you said your end of the season good-byes… today?

You may have never thought about this but I promise you this idea will greatly enrich your team’s season now and in the future.

Let me explain.
If you’ve been through a few basketball seasons you will understand it when I say.

“The season is long when it is, and short when it’s over.”

When I look back on seasons gone by 5 or 20 years ago, it’s the feelings of that season or team that you remember. An ancient team photo will bring back memories of situations and the past is quickly replayed in your mind, but these memories are deeply flavoured by the feelings of that season. Some old video footage might be available and you may have been the hero or the zero who made the critical mistake…this doesn’t matter. In the end the honestly of the season is captured by the feelings between you and your team.

Inevitably it’s only after the final game of the season a team open up with each other and expresses their feelings to the group and with each other… have you noticed that?

Players tightly hug each other and say deep good-byes….they warmly embrace teammates they would normally have very little interaction with. Then come the text and group chat messages with heartfelt messages. You see phrases like; “I’m going to miss playing with you,” “you are one of the best teammates I’ve ever had,” “you had such an impact on me and my game,” “I appreciate all you’ve done for me” and even the classic… “I love you man”.

In many cases, this is the first time they’ve had a teammate share this type of sentiment or emotion with each other. Many times they’re even surprised to learn their teammate felt that way about them. Regardless of the “surprise” it’s generally welcomed and their relationship potentially moves one step further. But somehow the honest and unforced connection that was available during the season has been lost. This spurt of relationship growth is poorly timed; the season is over.

This unique moment in the basketball season is also experienced by coaches. As a coach who tries to develop players, I rely on a heavy dose of faith throughout the season. I’m not referring to some heavenly faith or some entity in the sky, but the faith that what we’re passing on is actually reaching the players… making an impact. “It just takes time” I often say to myself in encouragement. Sport development is hard to quantify and since it’s cumulative in nature and can move back and forth in waves there are moments when you ask yourself… are we progressing? Am I an effective coach? So many internal questions that go unanswered.

But then at the the end of the season during those good-byes I’m approached by players and overwhelmed with appreciation and sometimes praise. Don’t get me wrong, this is appreciated… but it’s late to the party.

“Coach, thank you for all you did for us this year.”
“Coach, you really made a big impact on my life, I want you to know that.”
“Coach, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed your practices, I absolutely grew-up through the season.”

I think to myself, “Really? You felt yourself growing? That’s awesome because there were moments through the season I really wasn’t sure.

The reality is, if that player knew how much those words meant to me if they were shared with me in-season, I am convinced they would’ve seen an even better version of me. We would have trusted, connected and worked better together.

The same goes for teammates. Sharing these honest and transparent feelings with teammates at the end of the season is great but doing it during and throughout the season is better. It’s deeper and it reaches deeper meaning. If these words through the season can take you all to another level… imagine what the end of the season goodbyes will look like then.

When you pour more into each other through the process, you both will get more out of the process.

If you have a teammate who’s having a positive impact on you, tell them today.

I encourage you…

If you have a teammate you’re enjoying playing alongside or a teammate who’s having a positive impact on you, tell them today.

If a coach is having a major impact on you, tell them thank you today.
If a player is a joy to coach, share that with them today.
If a player is growing into the person and player you’ve hoped they would, make a point to tell them that today.

Don’t save one of your biggest team growth moments until the end of the season; implement your end of the season good-byes today!