Skip to main content

Frank Martin explains why there is no such thing as "tough love" in his mind

The term "tough love" is one that gets used quite a bit in both the coaching and teaching profession. Chances are we've all employed the approach at one time or another, or at the very least heard or seen it in action.

For South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin, whose team's run to the Final Four (where they fell 77-73 to Gonzaga over the weekend) gave him a box on which to stand and share some greats personal philosophies and quotes, "tough love" is a term he's not particularly familiar with.

Martin, known around college basketball for being fiery and animated on the sideline during games and his sometimes old school approach with players, once again used the spotlight of the Final Four podium to hammer home a point, this time on the term "tough love" and it's a perspective that will turn the phrase on its head for a lot of folks.

"What is tough love? I don't know what tough love is."

"People love you, they tell you the truth. They don't lie to you. So I hear tough love, and I've been hearing it for a long time. I don't know what that is. If you love people, then that means that you're honest. That means that there is trust in your relationship, and that means that there is loyalty in your relationship."

"All of those words are two-way streets. And then you've got the love. If you get the love, then you deal with the good and the bad the same way because of the commitment you have for one another."

"So I've never known what tough love - I don't know what that is. People use that term all the time. Because if you're not being honest with your players. If you're not giving them passion. Then there is no love. That's phoniness."

Next time you think of using the term "tough love" with a student athlete, or someone else, you might want to think back on Martin's perspective and philosophy.