Fostering Growth Through Positive Coaching: More Than Just a Game
Last weekend, while coaching my U11 girls soccer team in a championship game, I witnessed a scene that underscored the importance of a positive coaching approach........
Leading 2-0 at halftime, everything seemed to be going well. We were creating chances, defending right across the pitch and communicating as a team. Everything was moving forward positively for us. Or at least that is how it seemed, until the opposing coach turned the halftime break into a yelling match aimed at his players; a group of 9 and 10-year-old girls.
It caught me off guard and I stumbled while talking with my team.
His harsh words – questioning their abilities, criticizing their performance, and outright telling them they weren't good enough – were hard to hear. I even had some of my players point out that they felt scared hearing his words. Can you imagine how his players felt sitting 5 yards away from him? Just sad.
This raised a critical question: Was his focus on their development or his reputation in a final? It seemed clear where his priorities lay.
This stark contrast provided me an opportunity to discuss with my team the significance of our team philosophy, rooted in the principles of the Positive Coaching Alliance:
ELM - Effort, Learning, and understanding that Mistakes are okay.
I reminded my players that giving 100% effort and committing to learning are our primary goals. Mistakes are a natural part of challenging ourselves and striving for growth. By trying things we may not excel at initially, we inevitably make mistakes. And that's perfectly fine. It's through acknowledging and learning from these errors that we improve and evolve. If you are not making mistakes, you are not challenging yourself to be a better player.
This experience emphasized the importance of nurturing young athletes with positivity, focusing on their development both on and off the field. Coaches hold significant influence, and it's crucial that this power is used to uplift and encourage rather than belittle and demoralize.
Here is my challenge to you:
Strive to be the coach that prioritizes player development over personal reputation.
Let's commit to fostering an environment of positive reinforcement, where players are motivated to improve, unafraid to make mistakes, and supported in their journey of growth.
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