Keepin' it Positive

Winners win because they believe, without a doubt, that they can. Winning isn't just trying not to lose. It takes focused, positive energy to take players from envisioning their best performance and combining it with the forward momentum of the team to win.

We are surrounded by negativity everyday: news and social media, fan criticism, self-doubt. It is imperative that the team environment be buoyed by as much of a positive culture as can be generated, and that positivity begins with the coach.

Researchers in sport psychology suggest that 80%-90% of reinforcement from a coach should be positive.* On the field feedback should reward positive behavior in the form of what a player might best respond to. What should you use for your carrot? Ask your players. 

For some players, verbal or nonverbal praise may be just the ticket to creating that positive culture. Consider taking that step once further by encouraging the player to also spread that praise to teammates when they are truly doing well. And consider having the player acknowledge his successes to himself. This will help stave self-doubt and provide a platform for intrinsic motivation.

Beyond rewards for positive behavior, providing an environment for success can go a long way in establishing a culture of positivity. Set challenges that are just outside your athletes' comfort zones, but make them attainable. Allow your players to push themselves and know that success is achievable, again and again.

While some coaches see some success with negative reinforcement, that success is temporary. You are not just building a team player by player and season by season. You are building an entire culture that will constantly evolve and stand on its own, a legacy if you will. A legacy of positivity will help you attract top talent and create successful futures for your athletes long after they come off the field.

https://www.usta.com/Improve-Your-Game/Sport-Science/114412_Sports_Psycholo…