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The Power of Positive Feedback

I have written before about how important a positive attitude is succeed in life, and how difficult it can be to keep a positive outlook when facing adversity. Often times, the size of obstacles we face is shaped by the attitude we take when staring down a challenge.

Sometimes life kicks you in the gut, it is supposed to, the best lesson to learn is that it was never meant to be easy. Human beings don’t adapt to easy. We adapt to stress. Stress is our stimulus, whether it be physical or mental. You can’t coast through life on cruise control and expect to have a meaningful experience.

It can be tough at times, but I need to constantly remind myself (and I mean constantly) to check my attitude and approach daily activities with a positive attitude. A willing attitude. Just like I try to get my athletes to approach the physical and mental challenges of training with a positive attitude. If you actively try to avoid physical challenges, you are never going to grow physically. If you actively try to avoid psychological challenges, you are never going to grow as a person.

As a coach, especially one that works with younger athletes, we play a big part in helping develop that positive mindset. The words that you use, the way you say them, the way you carry yourself, and the feedback you give your athletes are all pieces of that puzzle. I am reminded of this on a daily basis through my interactions with our young athletes.

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Positive Feedback

We are all, or should be, familiar with the concept of the “feedback sandwich”. Something positive, something we need to work on, and something positive. This should be second nature to almost any coach. I don’t actively think about this all day, but it is programmed in my head that when I am giving feedback to an athlete, I need to incorporate some sort of positive message in there. For example:

“I love the effort, but we need to pay attention to our foot position, but keep working hard at it”

“The speed is great, and I can tell you are working hard, but we need to focus more on our technique”

“Your technique is great, but I know you can give me more reps with that weight”

Giving positive feedback is a significant part of coaching athletes (or anyone for that matter). If someone is constantly barraged with negative messages, they start to block you out. And if after a few sessions or practices they receive zero positive feedback, they are unlikely to want to try harder.

I am keeping this brief this week. I just want to keep pushing the message of the positive. It is easy to be the ball busting coach with a stop watch. The tough part is being the coach that motivates, encourages, and stimulates athletes mentally as well as physically.  And remember, you don’t know what other kind of stress exists on any given day in that athletes life.  Schoo, family, work, relationships.  It is short-sighted to think fighting gravity is the only battle on their mind.

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