Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

My daughter had only played team sports like soccer and rowing when she decided to try a new sport, Nordic Skiing (cross country skiing) in order to play for her high school.  In this sport, she was the newbie who was far from the best. But she and her friends, though novices, brought an infectious team spirit by cheering louds at events like races and awards banquets where support was typically more muted.  

They made a lot of friends by simply inquiring about how other athlete’s races went, and providing emotional support when their new friends were unhappy with their results. It turns out that no one really did that. In return, she appreciated the simplicity of performance evaluation. Ranking based solely on her time was a break from a more subjective evaluation. My daughter still views Nordic Skiing as her “off-season” sport, but the benefits were both emotional and physical.  

Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes

The statistic that 70% of kids quit organized sports before high school is a staggering one. As a coach, we can affect this number if we focus on getting our players to return to sports each season. One significant way is to supporting them when they are willing to play more than one sport in a season, or want to play a different sport during the off-season.

70% of kids quit organized sports before high school. Continue reading “Supporting Multi-Sport Athletes”

Teaching Growth Mindset Through Sports

Teaching Growth Mindset Through Sports

I remember the first time my daughter got cut from the new club soccer team they started in our town when she was in fourth grade. All her friends made the team, but she made alternate, which meant she could practice with team, but wouldn’t play in games. That wasn’t going to work for her; she wouldn’t thrive on a team that made her feel inferior.

It was the first time I saw her heart break and it was hard for me as a parent. Her town coach was also the new club team coach, and when we declined the alternate spot to take a spot on different club soccer team, he called. He was upset to know that my daughter was heartbroken so he offered to talk to her. They talked and she said, “You don’t think I’m a good player.”

 Her brave statement would serve to motivate her in the future and also demonstrate that her self-worth wasn’t affected. She didn’t think she wasn’t good enough to make the team. She thought the coach made a mistake in not picking her.

Growth mindset is exactly that: it’s not genetics that makes a good player, it’s hard work. And she this setback motivated her to put in the work over the next few years to improve. She went on to practice seven days a week until she finally made the top team of her club team.  

Teaching Growth Mindset Through Sports

Teaching Growth Mindset Through Sports

Growth Mindset in sports focuses on development rather than outcomes.

Fixed Mindset versus Growth Mindset

Research on Growth Mindset found that the kind of feedback teachers give results in kids either seeking out challenges or taking the easy way out. Feedback telling kids that they are smart encourages a Fixed Mindset, whereas praising hard work and effort fosters a Growth Mindset. When kids have a Growth Mindset, they take on challenges. This in turn, increases their abilities and achievement.

Applying Growth Mindset is simple; don’t praise ability or talent, praise hard work and effort. This mindset can be easily applied in sports and supports a development philosophy versus one focused on winning. For example, in a post-game meeting, it’s easy to recognize the girl who scored the winning goal. But if this was a lazy goal, praise instead the players who worked hard at practice to move the ball from the back, and demonstrated this skill during the game, thus creating the opportunity for the goal.

It’s easier said than done. As a coach, the mentality has to move from Winning to Development, both at practices and during games. It means that the focus is not on outcomes like game results, but on effort during practice.

Continue reading “Teaching Growth Mindset Through Sports”

Positive Reinforcement is Critical

female players can't be in the unknown

My daughter’s club volleyball coach is an amazing coach. He would thank players for running for an out of bound ball that they had no hope of getting to. He’s say, “Thank you so much for running after that ball.” And they would walk through fire for him. I asked him walking over to the team dinner that night if he had always coached this way. He said that he used to be the coach that was the hardest on the most promising player, but he learned that you can’t coach girls that way.

female players can't be in the unknown

Positive Reinforcement is Critical

Girls want to be pushed but they need some positive reinforcement. They have to feel that when you’re pushing them, you still believe in them. Which means that you can’t tell them at the end of practice; they need a small amount of positive feedback during practice. Continue reading “Positive Reinforcement is Critical”