Praise the Process

How do you praise your young athletes? Do you think it’s better to praise their talents and gifts, or their hard work and effort? Here’s a hint: there’s a huge difference.

Trevor Ragan’s video, “Carol Dweck – A Study on Praise and Mindsets” talked about Carol Dweck’s study of the impact that praise had on children’s development. They conducted a study where they praised children in one of two ways after completing a test. The first way was praising the children’s intelligence, and the other way was praising the children’s effort. Carol Dweck says, “Whereas focusing on the strategies they use, the way they are stretching themselves, and taking on hard tasks, the intense practice they are doing. Those are the kinds of things that say to a child or an older athlete: it’s about the process of growth.”

Coaches and parents, make sure you’re praising your young athletes for the process and effort, and not their intelligence or abilities. This will help ensure they keep a positive mindset, and it will develop a growth mindset with them as well.

Trevor Ragan says in his YouTube video below, “Research shows that having a growth mindset will have a big impact on the development on a child whether it’s on the court, in the classroom, or just in life.

I also found in Growing Champions for Life’s article, “Praising Young Athletes: Not All Praise is Created Equal”, that praising kids for being talented or gifted creates a belief in children that they can do well based solely on those talents and gifts. BUT, that approach doesn’t acknowledge the hard work and effort that must be invested to turn talent into skills. Praising kids for putting in work will reinforce and encourage them to improve by putting in more effort. By praising your athletes, you can create some real positive and healthy outcomes! You can help them realize that there is a connection between the effort they have put into practice, and start to see the results in their performances. You can be the one who helps them believe that their hard work will pay off, even if it isn’t “right now”.

I really believe that praising your athletes in the right way will make a big difference as to how they view you as a coach, and how their parents view you as well. By focusing on the positive, and ensuring your athletes are praised for putting in hard work and dedication, you will definitely see an improvement in your team’s performance!

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Nikki de Ocampo is the Domestic Development Intern at Canada Basketball. She is currently pursuing her Health Sciences Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion at Sheridan College, and has a passion for holistic health and wellness.

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