My Full Time Athlete
I want to tell you about something I tried to improve my athletes moods.
While coaching one day, I noticed a lot of negative attitudes and sad faces because it was a hard training day. I wanted to find a way to lighten things up so that our balance beam practice could be productive. It took a few minutes but then I thought of something!
I decided that instead of giving my athletes constructive criticism that was focussed on their mistakes, I decided to focus my comments on what they did well each time they executed a skill. I chose to do this for one balance beam practice which was 45 minutes long. It was kind of like an experiment.
I found that a change in mood suddenly started to arise! YAY! I was not able to tell them their mistakes during this time and therefore some mistakes were not fixed but they were at least positive and motivated to work hard when they started hearing the comments on what they were doing well. Our balance beam practice slowly began to improve and the amount of falls began to decrease. They looked confident and proud of themselves while training.
It was so nice to see all of the happy faces especially after a rough first half. I asked them individually why they thought the second half of our practice was so good. They each answered with something positive that they did during that time without even hesitating or taking more than a few seconds to think about it. I was so proud of them for being able to do that. It was clear that it was a positive and memorable experience for them.
Unfortunately as coaches we are obligated to make corrections and comments on our athletes mistakes in order for them to understand what they are and therefore be able to make changes. We would not have competitive sport if we did not take time to point out mistakes in order to eliminate them. After all, competitive sport is about perfection if you want to be a winner. I do however think that a healthy balance of positive feedback is important in order to have happy athletes!!!
Hearing about their strengths allows them to feel proud and confident about themselves. When an athlete is confident in themselves, it is so much easier for them to think about their weaknesses as things to improve on instead of things that are holding them back.
“You are your own most powerful motivator and critic. Which will you be?”