The Importance of Not Overreacting to Athletes’ Mistakes
Posted by Dean Holden at April 19th, 2015
by Sara Perez, 2 February 2015
All coaches have different personalities, and this leads to various approaches from the men and women who walk the sidelines.
Every coach reacts to when their players make mistakes. The important thing is to not overreact. Mistakes happen in every sport at every level. Blowing a gasket, though, can ruin an athlete’s confidence and experience, especially in youth sports when the child is just beginning to learn the sport.
Bob Lyons, a coach in the Greater Catholic Youth League of Cincinnati, has been coaching for more than 30 years and uses player mistakes as learning opportunities.
“Mistakes are a part of any sport, and we learn from them each and every time one is made,” Lyons said. “We teach with a patient approach on how to handle a mistake, a failure. Let the players know that things happen, good and bad. As long as effort and attitude are being applied, we can deal with mistakes and learn from them with a short term memory and ‘put it behind you.’ ”
Adrion Roberson runs KC United Youth Football League in Kansas City, and he employs four steps to reinforce his positive coaching style.
- The ability to diagnose situations
- The skill to manage self
- The desire to energize others
- The discernment to be able to intervene skillfully
These reminders help him to not overreact to his players’ mistakes, and just like Lyons he uses mistakes on the field as teaching opportunities.
“More than likely, they (coaches) will be able to see that the mistake that the child, youth, teen made is not the first one they will make. In fact, they will be able to now go into a teaching mode that is different than coaching,” Roberson said.
Getting players involved in the problem-solving process allows them to recognize what they did wrong. Simply yelling at players to not do something focuses on the negative without any opportunity for learning.
Lyons uses this approach to teach accountability and to learn from his players.
“In games especially, if a player makes a mistake the first question I ask is, ‘What did you see out there to make that decision?’ So I can learn through their eyes and thought process,” Lyons said.
Coaches have opportunities to mold young athletes on their teams. Without mistakes or failures, progress is difficult to achieve.
Roberson’s advice to all coaches, especially those who overreact to mistakes in a negative way, is to think about how you want your players to remember you.
“To always remember the word ‘legacy.’ Beyond the sport, what would you want him or her to remember about you when you are gone? Always remember, failure is necessary for growth,” Roberson said.
“While I know some coaches react to a situation with yelling or negotiation with the kids to prove a point that a mistake was made, I have consistently taken the approach from my first practice with my players and it’s a very simple directive that plays out throughout the season: put it behind you and move on,” Lyons said.
Category: art of coaching, coaching culture, communication, deportment, education, expertise, feedback, leadership, learning, life skills, mindset, motivation, philosophy, positive coaching, practices, psychology, respect, responsibility, routine / ritual, self-awareness, self-improvement, sport psychology, teaching