In HOW TO COACH GIRLS, Alison talks about the need to give positive feedback on a constant and regular basis to her players. She gives different examples of how to recognize the achievement of her players, both on and off the pitch.
As the season winds down, I remember how validating it was for my daughter to get a verbal and written evaluation form. Her soccer coaches used the evaluation to recognize and celebrate her development. From the point of view of Growth Mindset, soccer can be used a real-world example that consistent effort is the reason for new skills like curving a shot into goal, or 1v1 evasive maneuvers. Natural ability, particularly in a skill-focused game like soccer, only goes so far.
To make it easy for parent volunteer coaches to give their players an assessment, we created a free, downloadable form that includes attributes such as:
- Works hard in practice
- Leads by example
- Team Player
- Willing to learn new skills
- Overall Fitness
- Game Sense
You can get the form here.
Alison recommends that the written evaluation always be accompanied with a face-to-face private conversation. This can be done by simply doing short meetings in a corner of the soccer field. The idea is to go over the form, celebrating each player’s development, and recognizing where they were at the start of the season to how far they have progressed.
From this place of positive reinforcement, you can gently set with your player, goals for next season, even if you are not going to be coaching this team again. It is often illuminating just to ask the question to the player, “what do you want to work on for next season?” Girls are often their harshest critics so words of encouragement go a long way.
My daughter’s first evaluation with her coach on the first team was simply centered around his telling her that she’s a good soccer player. For him to believe in her went a long way in making her feel like she belonged on this new, higher level team. It bonded to her to him as her coach in a way that she would put forth her best effort both on the practice field and in a game. For a coach to believe in a player is a gift that will carry past soccer games and into life.
I have a 3-ring binder of my daughter’s evaluations. It includes her report cards, standardized test scores, and sports evaluations. It’s a keepsake that I think she will appreciate when she has children and can look back at how working hard has shaped her life. It’s part of precious memories she will carry forever, including how her soccer coach believed in her and made her a better player.
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