Positive Constructive Coaching
“Do I matter?”
Regardless of age, humans share a universal desire to feel as though they matter - that their individual efforts and their presence in a given space is seen, heard, and acknowledged. Every instructor has a coaching style; you can feel it when you step into their space. For both of these reasons, the question of “Do I Matter” was set as one of Thrives' core values, and as a foundational pillar in developing our coaching philosophy of positive constructive coaching.
No one is a master of something when they first start, and the process of working toward mastery is long. It’s tedious and often frustrating. While the individual's mindset and attitude towards adversity is a major contributing factor in the success that they achieve (in whatever way success looks to them), the environment plays an equally important role. When looking at this through the lens of athletics, and more specifically youth athletics, the coach and their teaching philosophies are responsible for shaping the environment and directly impact the students’ mindset and attitude towards adversity.
Positive constructive coaching is a philosophy that focuses on acknowledging efforts and progress made while working towards the goal of mastery while critiquing aspects of the skill that need further improvement. An example of this in gymnastics could be a student working on a cartwheel and their instructor giving feedback along the lines of,
“I noticed you kicked much higher during your last try and that is a big step in the right direction. On your next turn, let's do the same big kick, and also try to straighten your legs a bit more”.
This feedback provides a balance of praise for efforts made and gives instruction for further improvement. It's important to note that with positive constructive coaching, there is no pressure assigned to the skill or the child's ability to perform the skill. Incompletion of the skill does not equate to being “bad”, nor does the mastery of the skill equate to being “good”. The skill and the level of mastery are neutral, and what is praised instead is the continued effort made toward progress, not perfection. When a coach's focus is on progress and not perfection, it allows the child to feel seen and accepted, and that makes them feel like they matter. ●