Most youth organizations tout the benefits of the coach having a positive attitude. Movies make bad acting coaches into fools. AYSO includes Positive Coaching as one of their five tenets. That's all good, but how does postive coaching work in practice?
It is easy to be positive when the practices go well, the team is winning, and the parents are helpful, or at least are not in the way. Of course, its a different story when your star player develops a second left foot, that one kid keeps watching the airplanes, and the referee is having an off game (off day? off season...). That's when it is hard to remember that it is, after all, just a game. Take deep breaths, relax, and try to cheer the frustrated players. This is when you need to remember that when they give up, there is no chance of a rally. And they give up when the head cheerleader, you, show it. When its obvious that there is no way out, change the goal of the game. "Look gang, its obvious that we cannot get past their defense, let's just try to stop them from another goal." Or, when the situation is even worse, "We can't stop them, but lets not let their number 12 score again!". Changing the purpose of the game to something that is achievable changes everyone's attitude.
What about practice? Do you ever wonder how to be Captain Positive, when the player is obviously not getting it. "Nice Try", "Good One", these fall flat, or even offend the player that doesn't get it right. Many years ago I coached a U8 coed team, my son was a player. One girl, six years old, was at her first soccer practices I was teaching how to "shoelace" kick, and brought the parents out to partner with the kids. Her first kick went wild, the ball careening off at a 45 degree angle. I almost said, "Good Try" in a very positive way. Even at six years old, she would have known better. Instead, I smiled and said, "Yeah, it's harder then it looks, isn't it. Keep trying you'll get it." She looked doubtful. Four tries latter and she was gleefully bouncing the ball off Dad's shins. Admit the obvious, you goofed, we all do. And then help solve the problem
What is your favorite example of a Positive Coaching moment? Click on "Contribute", up at the top, and post your story.