It’s fairly well recognised that our role as coaches is to help children get better, whether that is becoming better people or better players. However, what is also becoming more apparent to me the more I read about things is that it is ultimately about children becoming better learner’s too.
There are many quotes from inspirational football managers from Pep to Sir Alex that talk about the importance of having a player that can learn but as a grassroots coach what role can we play in that process? Well, there are simple things we can do to encourage young people to develop these skills and foster a brighter outlook towards improvement.
Self-talk is recognised as playing an important psychological role within both the practice and performance phase of taking part in sport and how a young person uses that inner voice can have an effect on learning. As coaches we spend all of our time trying to help a player master a specific technical aspect or solve a tactical problem but if all the time you are competing against a voice internally in their head that tells them they can’t do this it is going to be a real struggle for us.
The cycle then has the potential to spiral downwards… “I’ll never get this” in the player’s head becomes the coach thinking “they are hopeless, why can’t they understand” and dangerously can move towards the coach considering “I’ll find another player that can do this instead” and all because we didn’t support their tape being played internally.
So, consider helping the player change those words. Discuss these with them, talk about how it affects them, get them to print them out and stick them on the fridge, use this how you like!
Instead of: Try thinking:
I’m not good at this What am I missing?
I’m awesome at this I’m on the right track
I give up I’ll use some strategies we’ve learned
This is too hard This may take some time and effort
I can’t make this any better I can always improve so I’ll keep trying
I made a mistake Mistakes help me learn better
Plan A didn’t work Good job the alphabet has 25 more letters
It’s good enough I can still make it better
He’s so good, I’ll never be that good I’m going to figure out how he does it to help me
I found this lists on a photo somewhere so not sure where they came from but they were linked to classroom learning. However, these are absolutely appropriate for the sport’s world too.
So, as well as helping the player’s with the technical and tactical aspects of the game try affecting the little things that could make a massive difference, to them as player’s and as people.
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