Do You Permit Yourself to Win?

1. Eliminate negativity – a negative environment creates a barrier to winning. Negativity breeds anger, resentment, and failure. Players who are submitted to this kind of coaching or parenting will eventually seek ways to get back at the negative coach or parent. If the focus is always on the negative, then one is not allowed a sense of how to win. That negative feedback will only teach one to be negative, rather than focusing on what is positive about the performance. Negativity is unproductive and unnecessary. It only creates more stress and anxiety which is not part of a winning formula.

2. Eliminate the word mistake – How many coaches and parents pay more attention to and expend more emotion on shots that their athletes miss rather than on shots that they make? Too many athletes put a value judgment on their shots, particularly the ones they miss. Therefore, they do not need a coach or parent reinforcing this. The emotion that is attached to missing a shot reinforces the miss and causes the athlete to hold onto the miss longer than is necessary. When athletes respond to a miss and not to those shots they hit well, they are reinforcing the negative instead of the positive. The mind will recreate the shots that the athlete attached the most feeling to during competition. It is important to remember that there are no mistakes, an athlete either makes it or misses it. Next time your athletes miss, try saying to them, No problem. You’ll make the next one. Next time they hit a winning shot, get excited and say to them, Great shot. Way to go!

3. Celebrate the wins – How many times do we see players come off the court or field or course asking what they did wrong? It seems that people have more difficulty when someone compliments them rather than when someone critiques them. Give your players compliments, and teach them to say “thank you” and to permit their mind and body to receive that feedback graciously. As goals are achieved, take a moment to appreciate them and experience joy from what has been accomplished. Savor your victories.

4. Focus on the positive – Coaches must focus on what is right with a player and build on that. Comment on the positive: “I like the way you did that” and then correct misses by saying, “I’d really like you to try. . .” This heightens the player’s interest and creates a positive learning environment. How can anyone think that berating a child (or another adult) can produce positive results? For someone to permit himself to win, he needs to think that he deserves to win. If there is any doubt about this at all, it will show up in a pressure situation. If a player is supported in a positive, learning environment, he will adapt to this pressure. A player needs confidence to want to be the one with the ball at the end of the game, to take that last shot. Confidence in these situations only comes from the atmosphere in which a player is reared. If the atmosphere is negative, the player will, more often than not, not come through successfully. If the environment is positive, the player’s chances of success are much greater.

5. Check your emotions at the door – Parents can put too much emotion into winning and losing rather than maintaining some distance from the emotional aspect of it all. It is obvious when a parent is living vicariously through their child. When this happens, the parent and his feelings become the center of attention rather than focusing on what is best for the child. Their child did not want to play poorly but sometimes that happens. Many parents have no idea what it takes to create a champion. Parents and coaches should be looking to enhance physical skills which will join with the mind to allow improved performance to take place. Being negative and overly emotional does not accomplish this. In fact, more stress is created. Just sit back and enjoy the competition.

These five tips will help you create teams that have more fun, learn more easily, and permit themselves to win more often.

Anne Smith, Ph.D. Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved.