By Katie Lovallo, MA, Mind Fit Performance (https://www.mindfitperformance.com)
Exemplify Being Effort-Focused Over Outcome-Focused
Teach your team that you care more about effort than outcome. This creates a safe space for them to learn and grow. While winning is important and should be part of the goal, it’s not everything and not the only thing. Emphasize skill building and teamwork, influence confidence positively, and praise effort.
Identify Your Why
Why do you coach? What’s your coaching philosophy? What matters most to you? If your answer to any of these is only winning and only about you, you might be in coaching for the wrong reasons. One of the greatest roles as a coach is to positively influence a player to work hard, try their best, help them progress, and contribute to their desire to remain in the sport in the future. Knowing your why can help guide how you coach, what you say, and what you stand for.
Communicate with other coaches, with parents when necessary, and with your players. Be open and honest. Do your best to create a safe, respectful space for players to come to you to talk about sport or other topics.
Equally as important as your communication with others is your communication with yourself. What is your inner dialogue like? Self-enhancing or self-defeating? Do you have an inner hater or an inner motivator? What’s your body language like before, during, or after a game? After a win or loss?
If you notice your self-talk is more negative, work on countering it with something more positive. Your players will pick up on your communication, even with yourself, so be sure to use language that facilities you in your coaching role.
Coaching is a performance too, and throughout the course of a training or match, coaches are faced with several decisions. Preview potential scenarios, personnel, choices, decisions, and options ahead of time, so when you face them in the moment, you’re prepared, calm and focused.
Give Your Players A Voice
Allow for your players to have some autonomy and say in their experience. Doing so contributes to players feeling like they matter, and can facilitate motivation, confidence and fun. Maybe let them choose a fun drill or game at the end of practice, or include their input in the upcoming game plan, or their perspective during halftime adjustments.
After each coaching experience, reflect on your performance. What went well today? What would you do differently next time? What stood out? What can you learn? Being reflective builds self-awareness and facilitates growth. Just as we expect our players to practice, learn, and progress, we should be doing the same as coaches.