As coaches our job is to lead our players and teams. We are the ones responsible for getting the most out of those entrusted to us. To get the most out of our athletes we must get to know what inspires them, what motivates them and even what an effective method of chastising a player is. No two players are alike and each player will have different hot buttons that we should be aware of. We also need to be aware of what type of feedback we give a player at any given moment. During a rough stretch of play for an athlete do they need built up with some positive feedback or is it a better time to get on the player to let them know that what is being done is not acceptable? Each situation is different and requires a unique and specific response. As Mike Krzyzewski said about working with a former player, Bobby Hurley “I had to work on him mentally and get him in a positive frame of mind. And that might mean challenging him, chastising him, or simply putting my arm around him and giving him a smile.” (Krzyzewski & Phillips, 2000, p. 107)
Working with any athlete requires keeping a player in a positive mindset. While criticism and negativity are very useful tools a coach should be careful to offer more praise than negative criticism. US Youth Soccer talks about filling a player’s emotional tank to help them deal with adversity better, be more coachable and more optimistic. Coaches can do this “by striking the right balance between specific, truthful praise and specific constructive criticism. Educational research indicates a “Magical Ratio” of 5:1, five praises to one criticism, which fosters the ideal learning environment.” (Thomas, Quinn, Carr, Buren, & Stringfield, 2008, p. 95) If we as coaches can give clear and specific we have the best chance to help our players improve their performance. What’s more, if we can find ways to do this while keeping with a 5 to 1 ratio of praise to criticism then our coaching will be even more effective.
Krzyzewski, M., & Phillips, D. T. (2000). Leading With The Heart. Coach K’s Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business, and Life. Hatchett Book Group.
Thomas, F., Dr., Quinn, D. R. W., Carr, D. D., Buren, W., & Stringfield, V. (2008). The Official US Youth Soccer Coaching Manual. US Youth Soccer.