- Be positive and honest
- State it clearly and simply
- Say it loud enough, and say it again
- Be consistent
Be positive and honest
You should strive to have five positive comments for every one negative comment. Players need encouragement because they often doubt their ability to perform. So look for and tell your players what they did well. In other words, catch them doing it right!
But do not say that something was good if it wasn’t. Kids know all too well when they have erred, and no cheerful expression can undo their mistakes. An effective way to correct a performance error is to first point out the part of the skill that the player performed correctly. Then explain – in a positive manner – the error that the player made and show her the correct way to do it. Finish by encouraging the player and emphasizing the correct performance.
An example might be, “Molly, I like the way you moved to get the ball in the middle of your stance. Next time, it will be even better if you don’t swing your arms when you pass.”
Be sure not to follow a positive statement with the word “but”. For example, you shouldn’t say, “That was a good approach on your attack, Kelly, but you didn’t contact the ball at the peak of your jump.” This causes many kids to ignore the positive statement and focus on the negative one. Substitute the word “and” for but. For example, you could say, “That was a good approach on your attack, Kelly. And if you contact the ball at the peak of your jump, you’ll be able to hit it harder. Way to go.”
Also, use the phrase “it will be even better if…” This reinforces to the player that they are already good and the instruction will help them take their play to the next level. For example, “Sara, you did a great job going after the ball. It will be even better next time, if you try to set balls that are above your head.”
State it clearly and simply
These players are young and their attention span is short. Be brief and clear with your instructions and comments. If you ramble, the players will miss your point. Use language that your players will understand. Think before your speak and be concise. Be specific with your feedback and do it immediately following the situation.
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