Sports for young girls are a great way to develop life skills such as learning to deal with failure and loss in a positive manner, and how to work hard as a team. The trouble is many girls quit early, citing reasons revolving around a loss of confidence to play. I found myself wondering more and more why this was until one day I saw the reason for myself.
Recently, at a girls’ middle school basketball tournament, the opposing team was really struggling. It was unusual sight, because this is a team that traditionally dominated the season and crushed their opponents. After carefully observing the coaching and players, it was easy to see a correlation.
The team was coached by a man that was yelling so much at the girls, his voice was almost hoarse after the first 6 minutes of the game. The home team’s coach on the other hand, was much more soft spoken and gave positive directions to his team on where to play on the court. While his opponent was literally jumping off the ground from the exertion of his voice, this coach’s calm demeanor had a huge impact on the players.
It didn’t take long for the home team to lead – a first for this team. The momentum kept up until the final score was 15-2: home team win. After the Euphoria from the first win wore off, it was hard not to really feel for the players of the other team. These 5th and 6th grade girls felt more than defeated. Their posture and body language indicated a loss in confidence in themselves.
Team sports require clear direction from a coach. It is he or she that has the strongest influence over the turnout of the game. Positive re-directs and most importantly encouragement to try to do one’s best is the most powerful strategy to get players to excel.
“Research is clear: kids who enjoy sports try harder, perform better and stay involved longer.” Phil Jackson, Basketball Hall of Fame Coach
Positive Coaching Alliance is a non-profit organization helping coaches and schools with a technique called “Double Goal Coaching”. The first goal is winning; the second goal is teaching life lessons through sports.
3 Principles of Positive Coaching
- Redefining Winner with the ELM Tree of Mastery: ELM standards for Effort, Learning and Mistakes are ok.
- The Emotional Tank: Players tend to perform better when they are optimistic, deal better with adversity and are more coachable when their emotional tank is full.
- Honoring the Game: Players should respect rules, opponents, officials, teammates and self.
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