Communication, Uncategorized

Coaching: Lets Be Positive

scott with preschooler

There are many methods and styles of coaching, whether it’s in business or sports, coaching is one of the major factors that can affect success in one’s participation. I have been coached by many professionals throughout my career and each one certainly had a great effect on my development. They all had their own style of communicating in attempting to create the greatest amount of motivation. This is the objective and is one of the most difficult challenges for the coach. Every student is motivated in a different way, but I have always believed that creating a positive and safe environment creates the greatest amount of motivation.

As mentioned in previous posts, there are many different methods that can be used to motivate a person(The Motivation Factor). I often see posts from coaches asking how to approach a particular student who seems to have lost their desire to train or participate. Since every student and situation is different, the coach needs to approach each situation differently. Much also depends on the level of the athlete. The approach will be very different from a non-competitive athlete and a competitive athlete. A competitive athlete has more of an obligation to perform at a higher level than a non-competitive athlete, so the dynamics of coaching will be dramatically different. In my opinion, the approach that should be taken in just about every case, should be a positive approach!!

scott working with group

When teaching classes, whether it is a recreational program or a competitive program, the coach needs to consistently communicate to their athletes in ways to motivate them to put forth a good effort and perform at a strong level. I have always believed that positive feedback and reinforcement creates a stronger desire to perform at a better or higher level. Criticism needs to be constant but in a positive manner. We call this “constructive criticism”.

A coach should never communicate in a manner that degrades an athlete. The coaches position should be to encourage and build self-esteem. This approach will more likely be motivating to the student. We should not use terms like “horrible” or “sucks”. Instead, we should communicate in a specific tone. For example: “That wasn’t bad but try to lock your knees on the glide…” or “be more aggressive”. Of course, we all get students who lack a strong desire or effort and these are the most difficult students to handle at times. However, even in these situations, the language and approach should be constructive, not destructive.

Failure Depression pic

I have seen coaches who use threats and yell at their students to get them to perform to the coaches expectations. This type of behavior usually results in tears and/or rebellion, both of which is non-productive. There are certainly other ways to communicate with students who need a boost in their motivation. One such method is creating fun and exciting incentives.  Another method is to let the student take a break or even go home for the remaining of the practice.   If the student has a desire to improve, they should come back with a better attitude. However, if the student has a negative experience through their coaches behavior, this desire may not return for a longer period of time or possibly may be gone forever. I have also seen coaches yell and speak in disgust to their student at competitions. I remember specifically one coach of a level 4 team tell her students “you make me sick and embarrassed”. These kids are only 6 and 7 years old. I couldn’t believe that behavior!!

showcase medal ceremony

I truly believe that champions can be created through positive reinforcement and interaction. Of course, as the athlete reaches higher levels of participation, the environment becomes more serious and focused, but that should not take away the positive environment. There are many choices for parents to place their children in programs. The right fit should be explored before committing to a particular program. Always remember, only a very small fraction of athletes reach the highest levels. The majority will end their career to explore other opportunities and activities. The coaching staff should create an environment where athletes can be excited and proud of their experiences in sport.

If you have questions, do not hesitate to comment or send me a message. Also, if there are any subjects you would like me to cover, let me know and I will do my best to post my thoughts. As always, I would love to hear your comments. Please Like and Share to all you believe will benefit from the information.

For clinics, seminars, or special events, please contact me at: scottjohnsongymnastics@gmail.com

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