Praise is a fantastic motivator, in all aspects of life, and most definitely in sport and business. I recently experienced this with my job. I had completed a rather long and tedious task for a client, and I was feeling only mildly confident about the quality of the work, but reluctantly sent it off to the client. A few hours later, I received a very positive response and strong praise from the client, coupled with some suggestions to make it even better.
Needless to say, I was delighted. My document wasn’t perfect. There was a key point missing and some errors. But the client opened with praise, and then told me how I could make it better. I was so motivated to continue doing well that I immediately got back to work to input the changes that were suggested, even though it was late in the evening. Imagine if the feedback had immediately been, “you didn’t do this right”, “this is wrong”, “we are no longer doing it this way”? I would have been demoralised and frankly, not motivated to work on the next phase.
This same management style applies to sport as well. Kids thrive on praise and positive feedback. They are motivated by a few words of encouragement. Conversely, they will turn inside themselves and lose confidence when yelled at for making an error.
Coaches your words are powerful. And you can’t take them back. And while a child won’t always remember exactly what you said, they will remember how it made them feel.
Instead of always pointing out the negative, why not try finding something good in what a player did. And if you can’t find something good to say – say nothing and help them get over it. They already know they made a mistake and probably already feel bad.
When you yell at a kid for making a mistake, you are killing their confidence and only reinforcing poor performance, or worse, discouraging them from trying new things.
I assure you – nobody makes a mistake on purpose. Nobody intentionally misses the goal, or falls, or makes a bad pass. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow. Encourage players to try and fail. Embrace mistakes. So rather than attacking kids for making a mistake – try finding something they did well. Praise them. Then show them or explain to them how they can do it better. I guarantee the results will speak for themselves.