Hold On

I am not talking about professional athletes. Falsely boosting self esteem does not work. Look around you and you will see the result. Praise good effort and good results. Correct incorrect behavior, poor effort or poor results. Sure correction must be done in a positive manner. No one thinks we should break people down, but false praise gets you nowhere. The person who notices it the most is the person receiving the false praise. That is not to say that you do not encourage, encouragement is the cornerstone of good teaching and coaching.


At 6/18/07, 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

False Praise...isn't that our culture now? At the elementary school level where every students get a star on paper. Little League where everyone EXPECTS to play and get an AT BAT. Pop Warner Football, every kids play two quarters. By the time these kids get to HS, it's a shock as to why they aren't "required" to play two quarters.

At 6/18/07, 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Praise good effort and good results. Correct incorrect behavior, poor effort or poor results. Sure correction must be done in a positive manner. No one thinks we should break people down, but false praise gets you nowhere."

This is so very true but not easy to do. I fear sometimes what is worse: society thinking they are great when they are not or people no longer playing any sports or allowing their kids to play sports because they felt like failures in their youth sports days. I coach little league baseball 9-10 year olds and use an all batters lineup but do not give equal time in the field. Some get it, some do not - and may never get it. I feel that young kids that rot on the bench will seldom consider their sports careers a good experience but those that get a chance, even if it results in not getting the job done will think more positive and try harder the next time or give their own kids a chance to play. There will be some culling through the years and pushing some kids to other sports but to me it is better than no sports at all for many of them. So many times I hear coaches at small rural schools say that if they just had 1 more kid that could do this or that they would have won and in reality that 1 kid is right there in that school but quit because of poor coaching at an earlier level.

On a related note - I really like Coach Anson's comment after a drill for his team - "Good enough".

Mark Day

At 6/18/07, 2:06 PM, Anonymous tlanger said...

"encouragement is the cornerstone of good teaching and coaching."

That about sums it up!

It’s likely not a coincidence that the coaches of my beloved NE Patriots are known for their constant focus on teaching and that they’ve become the model organization; of course, having Tom Brady doesn’t hurt! Ironically, you can succeed as a coach by "breaking people down" but eventually they will tune you out; so, the success is fleeting....

Todd Langer

At 6/18/07, 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I coached 13 year old baseball one year. During a practice a boy pulled me over tho the side and told me something his dad said to him. His dad said, "You throw like a girl and you will never be able to throw." (I know there are girls/women who can throw like fire but the point is the dad was insulting his son). After hearing this I took the boy wearing his rimmed glasses under me wing and worked on his throwing technique. Fast forward a bit, this same boy later in the year was playing in right field where a ball had been hit in the gap all the way to the fence. This was the first gam ehis dad mustered up the courage to attend. The boy ran to the fence, picked up the ball and threw it on a straight line all the way to second base. After that his father thanked me and came to every game in support of his son. The boy only played a few years more. The moral of the story? Teach kids how to throw, run, hit, dribble, swim, dive...they do not have to be the best thrower, runner, batter, basketball player, swimmer. They just have to be more successful than when they started. We get to focused on producing the best athlete at this sport or that one when the focus should be teaching kids the skills to succeed regardless of what it is. It could be reading, it could be being a mime for crying out load. Teach them commitment, persaverence, teach them honesty, teach them how to be encouragers, how to lose and win graciously. Failures aren't always meant to be overcome or broken through. Sometimes they are detours to that thing, that activity that will make us great!! Whatever you do, don't always cater to someone solely based on their feelings. In some cultures loving your neighbor means being friendly to them and in other cultures it means that you eat them, both based on a feeling. Without a referrence point all these philosophies, ideals, behavioral modification techniques are pointless. Despite the cultural flavor of the month, there are absolutes in this world. These are the reference points that we should be guided by and should use to guide others. Athletics, competition in general, is the arena in which we find out what we're made of not what our opponents made of.

Jonathan Hewitt ATC

At 6/18/07, 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts to add to the mix:

Just as there are methodogies for developing athleticism and its components there are methodologies for providing clear, non-judgemental, effective feedback and promoting the learning of an athlete. Mike Hebron has some good insight into this on his website as it applies to golf.

Continous learning and mastery of these is as essential to developing athletes ( people ) as sound science and program design. Some coaches do it more intuitively or instinctively and others have to work harder at it but we can all continue to learn and grow in this area.

Clear, accurate, concise feedback is essential for an athlete to learn and develop. That said, what I see and say as the coach are only one part of the formula. The bigger part is the athlete's thinking about new information and how they apply it to themselves. As a coach I want to engage the athlete's thinking about their efforts and the results and about the feedback I give. They are the ones who will do the work and accomplish the results. They will do better if their head is in the game so to speak.

When it comes to youth athletes ( probably athletes at any level when I think about it ) we could do with a lot less praise and criticism and a lot more good solid feedback. We have a U15 girls soccer team that is 7-1 in league play. They want to move up to the next division so they are playing three tournaments against premier teams. The matches are an opportunity to do their best and see where stand. They are 0-2-3. The matches provide feedback. They have identified technical and athletic strengths and weaknesses with their coach and next off-season we can begin to address the weaknesses and build on the strengths. Point is they are learning to set goals and take responsibility for their development. They aren't stuck feeling bad about themselves or their tournaments or telling themselves that they are better than they are.

Final thought - as a coach one of my challenges is to demote the value of my opinion about an athlete's performance or effort and get better at offering clear, concise feedback and then challenge the heck out of them to look at it and respond.

Sorry if this turned into a bit of a rant.

Tim Clark

At 6/19/07, 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Whether positive or negative, it is feedback.

How is it done?


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