We coach because we are passionate about sports, and ultimately want to have a positive influence on the lives of our players. How do you ensure you are in fact having a positive impact on them? It’s easy, you need to connect with your young athletes!
Once you have solidified a connection with your players, it will be a lot easier to motivate them. One way to form this bond – a compliment! A simple compliment is a very powerful thing and can go a long way.
Since our athletes are young, and learning the fundamentals of basketball, or any sport for that matter, a simple compliment can be just the thing to encourage them to continue to practice and try hard. The overall timing of the compliment can be very impactful for your players. The following are three points on when to compliment.
Compliment anything and everything.
Basketball related or not, compliment your athletes. “Hey, are those new shoes? I love them, do you think they come in my size”. Compliment anything – new bag, new socks, etc. This is a good tactic to use if the players are new, or during camp settings where you don’t know every player and need to form the initial connection.
Compliment before a critique.
Although this is self explanatory, it may difficult to always give a compliment before you critique. Ultimately, by complimenting first, it opens the door, it allows the player to be more open to your critique and listen to what you have to say. For example, if they completely miss a shot, be sure to comment on how good their form is, and not on how they missed the basket. Keeping things positive is key.
I recently read that a coach will hand his players recipe cards the first practice of every week. On the cue cards are two compliments related to what they are doing well in practice, and one thing to work on this week, followed by a motivational quote. Each player’s cue card is different with the exception of the quote. He said that his players look forward to receiving the cards each week.
If you know that you will be coaching the same group of kids for a long time, or will be coaching them in the near future, start complimenting them early. “I heard you aced your science test, keep it up!”. This coincides with complementing anything and everything.
What do you have to lose? By doing this, it will only develop the connection between yourself and your players early on. In turn, this will result in a stronger relationship, and they will be open to everything you have to say.
Do you think this is easy to do, or easier said then done? Let us know in the comments below!
Elizabeth Corey is currently pursuing her Master’s Degree in Sport Management at the University of Ottawa. She is the Student Domestic Development Coordinator at Canada Basketball, and is the Director of Events for the University of Ottawa Sports Business Club.