Tag Archives: Coaching

Sports Motivation: The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Motivation plays a huge role in boosting sports performance. Athletes must be motivated to maximize their abilities fully, to achieve their goals, and to perform their best. For coaches, motivation serves as the foundation for all athletic effort and accomplishment.

While there are many ways to motivate athletes, positive reinforcement can be one of the most effective strategies to change and shape behavior. This is especially true for coaches who are enormously influential in the lives of their students, especially the youth.

Image source: trauma.blog.yorku.ca

Regardless of the sport, coaches have the responsibility to teach the skills of the games and how to effectively execute them. The teaching process, however, must be a systematic method and should not be rushed. Through positive reinforcement, coaches recognize the individual differences of players, whether through thought, feeling, and behavior, and try to adapt by developing a positive interaction with the athlete or the team.

For example, when a player does something right or has improved in performance, a coach can reinforce the behavior by giving the rewards that the player values. But given that each player finds different things rewarding, it is important that a coach knows his players. A coach can ask a player what motivates him or her to excel at the sport.

However, there are limits. A coach need not reward a positive behavior every time because doing so can undermine the effect of the reward. What coaches need to remember is that the best way to shape behavior is to offer no response to undesirable behaviors and to reinforce positively desirable behaviors.

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Coaching Styles: Telling, selling, sharing, and allowing

According to legendary American football coach Mike Singletary, players respond to coaches who really have their best interests at heart. Singletary also tells us that coaching is more than planning or passing on knowledge to players. It also means creating a good learning environment and coaching style conducive for learning.

CoachingImage Source: sircsportresearch.blogspot.com

While taking to heart passion, coaches can adopt four coaching styles depending on a given situation. An autocratic style by “tells” or “sells,” a democratic one “shares” and “allows” players to act based on their own judgement:

Telling: Using this style, the coach is the sole decision-maker. The coach tells the team what to do and how to do it.

Selling: When selling, the coach informs athletes of their exercises and agenda. He decides on what is to be done and he also explains what is required and the objectives of the training. But unlike in telling, this approach encourages the participation of athletes, allowing them to ask questions to clarify any points.

Sharing: Unlike telling and selling, sharing invites ideas and suggestions from the players. Decisions are made based on team consensus.

Allowing: A more laidback approach, allowing requires the coach to outline the training requirements to the athletes and define the training conditions. To better meet their goals, this approach allows players to explore possible solutions and make the final decision for the team.

coaching1Image Source: breakingmuscle.com

Apart from these coaching styles, coaches also need to develop a good relationship with their athletes. No matter how brightly a coach’s ambition burns, player safety, happiness, and welfare should be priority.

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