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Posted in: General

Can certain words really make a big difference in your coaching sessions.

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  • pippaglen

    A couple of weeks ago I attended a course on how to manage services users with behaviour issues. Our group was given words in the picture above all mixed up. We was then asked to place the words in 2 lines,very confused we placed them in the order shown in the picture, unsure why but it was significant, unbeknown to our group we had actually placed the words in the correct line we just assumed it was because they was in bold when actually the words in bold are used in everyday life and through many jobs. 

    What words would you use in your coaching sessions to

    inspire your athletes 

    To promote better behaviour. 

    Do you already use the words in bold in your coaching sessions?  If yes has this had a big impact on the behaviour of your athletes. 

  • IanMahoney

    Belief and confidence is not in that list, as is nor effort and praise and friendship.

    belief is the biggest factor in high performance. without confidence they will never achieve their potential,

    Training takes effort, Some athletes try but don't improve but they have a good effort.

    When athletes do well, like humans in any walk of life crave praise.

    Friendship not only with the coach to ensure they keep coming back but friendship with the group

    peer-peer friendship and support allow everyone  to achieve their goals

  • andrewb62

    I use "challenge" (or close synonyms) a lot - "this is challenging/difficult, but I think you can do it"

    But I probably use "try" more than any other word - "yes, you can do this.  Go on, try"

  • pippaglen

    Thank you for your feedback it's great to see other coaches opinions and idea's,  I personally use the words ( absolutely fantastic work keep it up) throughout my coaching and whilst working with the homeless. 

  • pippaglen

    Thank you for your feedback Ian,  its amazing when we think about the words we use when coaching compared to what we use in our everyday life. Both children as well as adults thrive on positive vocabulary and I think words we use within our coaching plays a massive part in our athletes behaviour.  

    As well as coaching Paralympic athletes Im also a support worker working with 16 to 21 years old  who are homeless working  with mental health, youth offending,  D& V, drug's and aIcohol.  I find that by using positive words and praising residents this help with there move on support and getting them to engage with certain activities and services by being positive. 

  • Wendyrussell

    I definitely use excellent and challenging backing it with why I have used it...

    "that was excellent because you used the left foot drag to get around the player"

    like Ian I put in this will be challenging however I totally believe you can achieve this  with some practices and patience.


  • EllyNetball

    Using behaviourism to increase motivation ... this takes me back to my psychology studies (when one of Skinner's rats receives a food pellet (reinforcer) for pressing a lever, the rat is more likely to press the lever again).

    I believe the answer to the question posed by Emma is: "definitely" ... however, it's not only the words (and actions) you use but also the delivery ... timing, intonation, sincerity, frequency, etc.

    Coaches can enhance the athletic experience and performance of players: players who remain excited and committed to their sport also gain a competitive edge.  Coaches can facilitate by adopting one of the oldest learning principles in psychology: positive reinforcement ... it's so much more effective to reward appropriate behaviour, actions and effort than to be predominantly critical or to "punish" inappropriate behaviour, negative actions, or a lack of effort. 

    Praise provides information to athletes not only about performance but also about their self-worth and competence.  Praise for effort, creative-thinking and willingness to try - regardless of outcome - can make a significant and enduring difference to an athlete's motivation.  Praising effort is likely to motivate an athlete to train hard and adopt the view of 'ability' as something they can control whereas those who are praised only for their talent (success) can view 'ability' as fixed and unchanging and, especially when they experience failure, these athletes are less motivated to train hard or less willing to try something different [and we're back to the Growth Mindset].

    Use sincere, encouraging comments; make them specific and unambiguous.  Athletes want to know not only the what but also the why: if they aren't doing something correctly or succeeding, they want to know why a different approach is likely to be better [and this isn't to say that you, as coach, provide all the answers, but challenge the athlete to come up with solutions].  At the same time, they also want to be encouraged for their effort and ability to succeed with future attempts; e.g. "Suzie, although you rushed your shots in that last quarter, I really admire your determination and the fearless way you continue to take on and beat the defender - those great qualities will always serve you well in the future.  Now, in the next quarter, just take breath, set and get some height on your shots."

    Be sincere with your praise: carefully choose your words and intonation and/or high fives and/or pats on the back to send an emotional message: you care about your athletes and want them to succeed.  Insincerity conveys the opposite.  Your use of praise can heavily influence the coach:athlete relationship.

    Having said all that, it's also important to have the right balance: used too often, praise becomes meaningless and ineffective.  Know your athletes to determine when to use praise and what vernacular to employ so that it packs a real punch and positively affects motivation.

    I don't always get it right; I am, however, on an upward learning curve.

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