Five Ways to Empower Your Athletes

What is your style of coaching? Do you empower your players to win? Do your players have fun and love what they are doing? Do they want to win for themselves and you? Coaches must remember that they are authority figures who are often placed on higher pedestals than parents. Demonstrating caring, effective and empowering communication with your athletes is the best way to teach and inspire. These five Tips will help you empower your athletes.

1) Ban the word “mistake”. This is such a powerful, negative word. The brain seems to latch on to it and not let go. If the focus is always on “mistakes”, then your athletes will keep making the same ones over and over again. This word triggers a vicious cycle of negativity. Replace the word “mistake” with the word “miss”. Nobody tries to miss. Your athletes will either make it or miss it.

2) Focus on what your athletes are doing well. When you focus on what your athletes are doing well, you are encouraging them, positively reinforcing what you want them to do, and therefore, increasing the likelihood they will repeat the behavior. One example is to tell the athlete, “I like the way you drove to the basket” or “I liked the way you moved to the short ball” or “I liked the way you came to net behind your serve.”

3) Stop constant critiquing. The best reason to stop constantly criticizing your players is because you run the risk of making them angry and bitter. If all you do is criticize, how can you be sure that your players will not give up or miss just to get back at you? Monitor how much negative feedback you give your players during practice and competition.

4) Make it safe for your athletes to take risks and learn new things. When you do this, your players will have more fun, improve and develop more tools to win. You create a safe environment for your players to take risks and learn new shots by complimenting them when they try something new, focusing on the attempt not the outcome and taking the pressure off of them by saying “I want to teach you a “specialty” shot to add to your game.”

5) Develop independent athletes. By developing independent athletes, you are increasing their self-esteem, helping them be more resilient and increasing their chances of success both in sports and “in the real world”. You can help athletes be more independent by limiting the amount of feedback you give during practice, not allowing them to look over at you constantly during competition and requiring them to be responsible for certain aspects of their sport like having all of their necessary equipment/gear each day at practice.

These five tips will empower your athletes to win more often, feel mentally and physically stronger, be more relaxed and play without fear.