Three Ways to Give Positive Feedback to Athletes

By RonUsher | Uncategorized

Dec 13
youth coaching, soccer fitness

Not the best way to teach or parent

The stereotypical coach is always yelling at his (or her) athletes.

I’m sure we’ve all seen parents yelling and screaming at their kids for every type of youth sport. Even if it’s encouraging…it’s still yelling and screaming.

What’s the best way to give feedback to your team or kids that will result in better performance and happier kids?

Here are three techniques that I try to use every day. The more I use them, the better my team does…and the less aggravated my son gets with me.

1. Catch them doing something right and ignore what they are doing incorrectly. In any performance, there are things that are correct, good and what should be repeated. And there are always ones that are incorrect, poor and should be eliminated.

No performance is perfect…and none is so bad that something good can’t be pointed out.

Sometimes it takes some creative thinking and observing to find the right thing. It also takes knowledge (which is one reason experienced and good coaches are worth their weight in gold).

When you see what you want to have repeated, then you proceed to number 2…

2. Give specific feedback. Instead of saying, “good”, or “nice job”, be specific. Say, “that was a great tackle because you timed it perfect”, or “I liked the way you kept your balance on the shot”.

The more specific the feedback the better. Good, nice job, excellent, are all positive  statements but they aren’t specific.

3. Say what you want them to do instead of what they did wrong. Always state it in the positive, not in the negative.

For instance, “You ran too slow”, or “You need to run faster” don’t tell the athlete what to do.

Better instructions would be, “Lean forward from your ankles to run faster”, or “Keep your eyes on the ball when you run”. This tells the athlete what to focus on instead of what NOT to focus on.

Using these techniques will not make you a Pollyanna. There is a place for discipline and pointing out the negative things in a performance. However, I feel it is too often used.

It should be a very infrequent tool in your motivational and instructional arsenal.

What do you think? What’s your experience instructing your team or your kids?

Coach Ron Usher helps parents and coaches work with kids to become athletes. Want to learn how you can develop your child’s athletic skills? Then go to

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