As the old sayings go, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” and “a little sugar goes a long way!” When coaching, do you keep these concepts in mind? Or do you simply yell out corrections like:
- Don’t bend your legs!
- What was that?
- You are not even trying!
- Ugh, you run slower than my Grandma!
What do those corrections mean to your athlete? Well, nothing really. They just tell her she did something wrong or she thinks you are mad at her. And, if you as a coach don’t have kids of your own, let me tell you that 99% of all kids want to do nothing more than PLEASE their coaches – especially girls.
Corrections like those do not give athletes ACTIONABLE tasks either – in other words, how will your athlete know what you are looking for if you do not specifically say it?
TIME TO SANDWICH YOUR CORRECTIONS
Instead, try making a correction sandwich! In other words, sandwich the actionable correction in between two positive statements. So, next time Susie Q. Gymnast does her vault or Janie B. Swimmer finishes her lap, try this instead:
- PRAISE EFFORT – Tell Susie what she did RIGHT – even if you are just recognizing her for trying. Example: “Wow! I loved how fast you ran down the runway!”
- GIVE SPECIFIC ACTIONABLE CORRECTIONS – Tell Janie what she needs to do next – and why. Example: “Breathe every four strokes, it will help you swim faster.”
- CHALLENGE AND ENCOURAGE – Pump up your athlete. Let her know you have faith in her abilities. Example: “You can do this and I can’t wait to see it.”
I guarantee you will get athletes who are happier, more motivated, and your athletes will master their skills, decrease their times, and work better as a team!! Try it.
P.S. Giving encouragement and actionable tasks with a SMILE on your face also goes a long way.
This is a thoughtful and helpful article, thanks! Just wanted to add that creating a positive learning environment is crucial for young athletes – this should mean that it is OK for youngsters to make mistakes, so that they can learn from them and develop their skills. There is an inspirational video clip to watch on this subject with a discussion between leading UK youth sports coaches. Check the link to see it http://www.bettersoccercoaching.com/Article-1856-1-Coaching-tips-from-leading-youth-sports-coaches-on-how-to-create-a-positive-learning-environment