Words, words, words. Silence. Direction, instruction and more silence. Verbal communication is a vital skill if you are to become an effective soccer coach. What you say to your players mediates how they feel about themselves and whether they develop a fixed or growth mindset. Here’s some ways to feedback to players to help them grow.
Heidi Grant Halvorson studied under the great Carol Dweck and is now one of the world’s leading researchers on motivation. She is brilliant at coming up with new ideas on developing that all important growth mindset.
Like Carol Dweck she argues that we all approach our goals in one of two mindsets, although she calls them the ‘be good’ mindset and the ‘get better’ mindset. The ‘be good’ mindset is one where you focus on the abilities you have now, while the ‘get better’ mindset is one where you focus on developing and learning.
The ‘be good’ mindset is one of comparison. It emphasises innate ability and a yearning for praise. Get lost in this way of thinking and being and you’ll find you’ll quickly doubt yourself when things get hard.
In contrast, the ‘get better’ mindset isn’t concerned with others. It reinforces a focus on self. Immerse yourself here and you’ll become (and continue to be) bulletproof as you scale the sizeable learning wall ahead of you.
Here are some communication tips to help you build a soccer coaching culture that encompasses the ‘get better’ mindset:
Allow them to mess up – “You are going to make mistakes, but I don’t care. Enjoy every second as you attempt this new drill. If you make a mistake, re-focus your mind and keep putting effort in”
Create an open environment – “If you struggle to understand what we’re working on come and see me. You’ll get extra bonus points for doing that. If you do we can then work on this together…we’ll hatch a secret plan to help you improve”
Help them focus on themselves – “We’re going to have loads of fun helping you get better at your skills. Remember, all that matters is you putting effort in to improve your game. Everyone learns at different rates – just focus on your game.
Progress not perfection – “You know what champions think about? Improving! They know they’re never going to play perfectly but they don’t care. They just want to be the best they can be at the game. Your best isn’t perfect, it’s just your best”
When you next go onto the training pitch think of the brilliant work of Dweck and Halvorson. Think of nurturing your ‘get better’ coaching culture. Put soccer psychology at the forefront of your coaching.