Sport Psychology/Coaching: Improve the Quality of Your Congratulations

Sport Psychology/Coaching: Improve the Quality of Your Congratulations

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

Most teachers and coaches realize the value of a pat on the back after a job well done.

In general, most young people appreciate any kind of encouraging word. However, good intentions can ring hollow if your students hear the same "Good work!" over and over again. This is especially true if their performance was partly good, but also partly bad.

Increase the Credibility of Your Praise
A good way to increase the credibility and power of your praise is to focus on specific aspects of your student's performance that really were good.

For example, instead of the standard, "Good game, Fred" you might say, "Nice game Fred. You did a super job of getting low on ground balls!" This will prove to your player that you really were watching him and aren't just repeating a worn-out cliche.

It will also give players a standard they can refer back to during future performances. For example, if in a future game, batters keep hitting the ball between Fred's legs, he can think, "Now what was I doing differently during that game when Coach liked the way I was fielding ground balls?"

1. Dr. Rob Gilbert, "Player Burnout: How to Prevent It." Soccer Now, Spring 1988.
2. Robert S. Weinberg, Daniel Gould, Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4th Edition, Human Kinetics, 2007.

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