Bad Calls Happen

From our friends at TrueSport:

From viral videos of youth sport parents fighting on the sidelines, to youth sport communities posting signs like this…

Youth Sports Good Behavior Reminder Sign

There is an increasing need to explicitly remind spectators that sport is meant to be fun for kids.

Bad calls happen. But how you react on the sidelines makes or breaks the atmosphere on the field.

Continue reading to learn the best ways for coaches and parents to respond to bad calls.

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Coach Communication (Part 5)

By Craig Sigl

(If you have not read Parts 1-4 you may do so here, beginning with our January, 2018 issue)

12) Put down on paper your philosophies and rules. Give to both kids and parents.

I am forever asked questions that are along the lines of this pattern:

“Craig, what can I do when (bad thing) happens?”

It is so much more efficient (and I’m an efficiency fanatic) to ask the question:

“Craig, how can I stop (bad thing) from happening?”

You as a coach know all too well that if a player only learns from making mistakes AFTER the fact, then it’s going to be a rough time for that player during the season, right? One of my favorite success principles is: PREFRAME everything!

Human beings do so much better when operating within frameworks. Since you are in charge, give it to them! Spell out as much as possible on a sheet or two of paper about how you are going to run things at the beginning of the season (and remind them throughout the season) and then simply stick to it!

People are afraid of the unknown and they lash out when they perceive unfairness. In the absence of your rules and philosophies, it’s much easier for them to think you are unfair and you are going to pay the price for it. The key to getting the most from this is to go into as much detail as you can like a roadmap.

Be deadly accurate honest about how are going to coach and go over specific things like:

How you make decisions for playing time, starting positions
• How much value you place on hustle at practice. What does that look like?
• How much will numbers/stats play a part. Which stats?
• How much being a “team player” matters and then define what you will be looking for.
• What specific behaviors in practice or games will reduce chances of more playing time
• Could you have a rough “scoring” system for that to put an assistant coach in charge of?

Philosophies about sport and/or coaching.
How important is winning vs. skill development to you.
Whose coaching style has influenced you? A mentor? Retired coach author?
A specific grievance/feedback process for parents and another one for players (tell them exactly how to get your attention, when, where, etc. )
What is not tolerated and the consequences if discovered

Spell it all out! Be specific. Don’t make people guess about you and what’s important to you as their coach. Take full advantage of your players’ desire to please you. I bet if you start this today, you will continually add to it as you go and eventually it will be like a mini company policy book and it will get better with time and you can re-use it every season.

Believe me, people appreciate knowing what they are getting into that is all out in the open for everyone to see…ESPECIALLY THE PARENTS. By the way, when you do this, a byproduct benefit is that you will become much more congruent and consistent in your actions which will be noticed by all. That’s leadership!

The idea of “unfairness” moving through a team or the parents is a cancer that destroys performance. PREFRAME how you operate and eliminate the problem. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

13) Project openness and be an active listener to get valuable info.

Yes, I know some coaches are not really interested in being good listeners but I’m here to tell you that you are blowing it if you ignore this side of the coin of communication. I see no reason for you, as a coach and leader, to give off the attitude that you are unapproachable or scary to talk to. Any one of your players, assistant coaches and yes, the parents, may just give you a nugget of information one day that saves you and/or your team some serious difficulties at the very least and at best, point something out that you have missed that makes the difference in a game situation.

If you watch the TV show, Game of Thrones, you know there is a character named Lord Varys. His special power is that he has “spies” or “little birdies” everywhere whom he has cultivated relationships with that constantly feed him information. Information is power! In the show, with no ability to fight, no royal blood, no family tradition, no wealth, he is a major player who makes big things happen and kings and queens consult him.

You don’t have to use all the information you get, and yes, you will get a lot of useless information to sift through if you truly are open to receiving it. But I promise you, it’s worth it. There is one trick to making this work without driving yourself crazy. I’m guessing that reading this tip, some coaches are thinking something like – “That’s all I need is to open myself up to all sorts of complaining and whining and I don’t have time for it and I have to tell them things they don’t want to hear anyway.”

I get that, but what you are missing in that equation is this:

In order to be a powerful info gatherer (active listener), you don’t have to agree to or promise any change or action on your part based on what they are saying in order to cultivate the benefits like Lord Varys. In other words, people just want to be heard and validated! That in and of itself is a valuable commodity.

That’s actually more important to them than you doing anything with what they say. For example… Parent comes to you after the game and says: “My kid should be the starter because he is putting up more points than the starters you have out there.” The basics of your response will be:
“Let me make sure I understand what you’re saying. You think that your kid should be getting more time than some of the other starters because he is scoring more points when he does play than today’s starters. Do I have that right?”

Parent answers “Yes” or adds some more clarity.

You answer back repeating back anything additional they just said finishing with another sentence to make sure they know they have been HEARD. You end it with something like:

“I really appreciate you coming to me with that feedback, I will definitely take it into consideration with my decision-making process. Anything else? I can’t promise you anything here except that your feedback is important to me and well taken.”

What most people do is skip the middle part of the conversation where they repeat back what the other person said (You can do it word for word or by paraphrasing). This is the key that gets the person off your back and prevents the cancers from ruining things (as best as you’re going to get). That’s called validation and just know that people crave it!

Do not skip the validation part! Of course the other person hopes you change your actions based on their feedback but they will feel an unconscious satisfaction from simply having been truly heard. Do NOT underestimate this power, it goes a long way to keeping people from the“unfairness” problem blowing up on you.

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com

Next: Part 6

Options for Choosing Little League All-Star Teams

Youth leagues around the country are deciding how to choose their all-star teams for the coming summer tournament. Below are some guidelines we suggested, originally published in 2010:

It can be one of the most difficult, controversial and emotional topics a youth league faces each year. How do we choose who makes the all-star teams and who coaches/manages them? There are always going to be many more kids and parents who believe themselves to be deserving than there are spots on the team. This leads to hurt feelings, accusations of cronyism, and animosity. Since Little League instituted an all-star level for 11 year-olds in 2003, to augment the traditional 9-10 and Majors levels,  even more debates have raged. Should the best 10 year-olds play in the 11 year-old division or stay in the 9-10? If a league has a lot of strong 11’s, should they stay together and compete in the 11 year-old tournament, or go up to Majors? Below is a guideline developed that addresses all of these topics. You may or may not agree with everything in this policy and may wish to adopt some parts, but not others. However, the result of having this document in place has been that nearly all arguments about the merits of players and coaches chosen for various teams have disappeared, due in part to a more transparent and objective selection process.

All-Star Selection Guidelines

The goal of ______________ Little League is to field the most competitive team in the Majors Division. Players for the Majors, 10-11 and 9-10 all-star teams will be selected in the following manner:

Majors: All players will vote for thirteen 11 and 12 year-old players in their respective leagues. Players will be allowed to vote for teammates and/or themselves if they wish. Instructions on the ballot, to be reinforced verbally by managers prior to voting, will be as follows:
Being selected to the ______________  All-Star Team is an honor and privilege. Select the 13 players on this list you believe to be most deserving of this honor based on their ability to help the team win. Ballots that the league feels are not taken seriously, (for instance: the majority of players you voted for are on one team, or most of the players you selected have not received votes from anyone else), may not be allowed.

All official league coaches and managers will also vote. The Player Agent will, with the President, tally the three sets of votes. Players will then be ranked from highest (most votes) to lowest. The committee recommends that this data be used by the President when making his decisions on manager slates. For instance, if a potential manager’s son or daughter is clearly in the top echelon after all voting is tabulated, it is very likely that the player will make the team when the final selection process occurs. However, if a potential manager’s child is “on the bubble” or not in the top 13, the President may wish to take into consideration the fact that this player may not warrant all-star status when formulating his slate.

The President will present his slate of managers and coaches to the board at the June BOD meeting. Once the slate is approved, the Majors Coordinator will schedule a meeting of the league’s managers to select the team. The five managers from each division, (and the manager of the all-star team if he is not one of the five managers), will select 13 players at that meeting, considering the votes of the players, coaches and themselves to be a guideline.

After the first vote, any players tied for the final spots on the roster will be voted upon again until a consensus has been reached and 13 players have been chosen. If two players are deadlocked for a 13th spot, the manager may, at his discretion, opt to carry a 14th player on the roster. If the final roster spot comes down to two players, one of whom is 12 and the other 11, the 12 year-old should be given the spot as it is assumed the 11 year-old will have the chance to play on the team next year.

It is possible that an 11 year-old player who is good enough to make the Majors team may wish to stay instead with the 11 year-old team. If this player is a “difference-maker” (was in the top 5-6 of the player/coach/manager voting), and is selected to the team by the managers, he must play with that team.

It is the recommendation of the committee that the team is comprised of 13-14 players, one manager and two coaches, and that the selection of the manager of the team is given equal importance to the selection of the players.

After the Majors team is finalized, the remaining eligible players from the Majors Division pool will be picked by the manager of the 10-11’s, along with the other league managers. It is the committee’s position that these will be primarily, if not exclusively, 11 year-old players.

The selection of the 9-10 all-star team will be conducted via tryout of between 18 and 22 players. Tryouts shall not be held prior to June 15, or two weeks prior to the start of the tournament, whichever is earliest. Every 10 year-old who played in Majors will automatically be invited to the tryout, which will be at least two days. Each team in Minors will submit up to 2 players, (3 if all agree), at a meeting arranged by the Minors Coordinator. After factoring in the number of Majors players invited to the tryout, the remaining invitees will be selected from Minors. If a tie between a 9 and 10 year-old player needs to be broken, it is recommended that consideration be given to the 10 year-old as the 9 will likely have the opportunity to play on the team next year. After the tryout, the Manager of the team will choose 13-14 players. It is recommended that a large portion of the tryout be comprised of a “live scrimmage game” between a team consisting of all Majors’ players against a team of the remaining players. A score book should be kept to assist the manager who is selecting the team in his decision-making process and to help make the process less subjective. Players who cannot attend either of the tryout dates will not be eligible to play. All-star hats will be ordered for all players attending the tryout, whether they make the team or not.

Coach Communication Part 4

By Craig Sigl

9) Listen to your players at a deeper level. Let’s put on the table a few human communication tendencies that will be beneficial for you to be aware of for the purpose of improved performance through better communication as a coach.

A. Understand and accept this….most people, in general, are not very good communicators. They say things they don’t mean and they use words that don’t accurately describe what they want to get across. They often speak in line with how they feel AT THE MOMENT which is in direct odds with their greater or longer term goals. They can actually hold a completely different meaning of a word than the person hearing it.
B. The male of our species tends to hear and process words from others much more literally than females (but females do this too).
C. Young people learn quickly, through their past embarrassing experiences with their peers, to not speak up whenever there is a hint of that embarrassment happening again. Without going into it, can you see the potential for all sorts of problems in communication that can occur from just these typical human communication errors? There’s lots more I haven’t even mentioned. All of them have the potential to create long-term destructive beliefs in your players (mostly along the lines of fear of failure and rejection) that trigger nervousness, tension, freezing, timidity etc. at the wrong time and wrong place in their competition, that destroys their performance.

Performance = Potential – Interference

Now that I’ve scared you with all of that, let me give you a secret weapon that can help you navigate all of this like a ph.d. communications expert.

In any communication with your players, or their parents for that matter, you want to hold in your mind this central idea while you are listening to what they have to say:

“What is it that this person REALLY wants and is trying to say?”

In other words, we sometimes call this “reading between the lines.” I could write a book on this but let me give you a typical example:

When you hear a kid say: “It’s just not fun anymore” it’s highly likely that what they are REALLY saying is that I am tired of the pressure and the conflicts.” As a mental toughness trainer having worked with hundreds of kids in person and practicing the skill of listening at a deeper level, I know this is true for most kids. But, even if you didn’t know that, you could ask yourself the key question above and logically conclude that since the sport itself hasn’t changed, that something ELSE has changed to make the experience “Not Fun.”

…and you go from there asking follow up and more probing questions like:

“What do you mean ‘it’s not fun anymore’?”
“When did it start not being fun anymore?”’

In order to go a level deeper into listening to your player or parent to get to the root of the issue.

In simple terms to sum up this tip, have a general rule in mind to NOT take what people say literally unless you are 100% sure. Have your radar up for any time someone communicates something to you in any kind of emotion to trigger you to ask yourself that question:

“What is it that this person REALLY wants and is trying to say?”

10) Do not try to “Motivate” players. Instead, trigger their highest self motivation. One of the biggest problems I hear from coaches is lack of motivation from their players. It shows up in the form of not hustling in practice, lack of focus, too much horse play or joking around.

So what do most coaches do when they run into these problems? Why, they crack the whip, get tough, and enforce consequences to MAKE them do what you want them to do whether it’s in practice or competition. Now, I’m not saying to throw those tactics out, there’s definitely a time and place to use them. However, those tactics tend to be over-used, they usually get short-term compliance at best and, even worse, risk causing interference programs that hinder athletic performance.

(Notice coach how I continually tie my communication advice here back to improved performance because I know that is YOUR self motivation strategy for even reading this!)

There’s another tactic to add to your arsenal.

In my H.S. Coaches Mental Toughness Toolbox program, I teach coaches how to deliver mental toughness to their teams in 8 pre-practice meetings. Meeting #1 is ALL about this tactic here and what it entails is getting each player to specific WHY they are here on this team and what they want to get out of it. Here’s the kicker….you get the players to write this down and sign it! It’s a statement of commitment based on their self motivation! You are going to use this to the max.

You, as the coach, collect these papers and if you don’t memorize them, keep them on your clipboard and you pull them out often and everywhere and use the exact same words they wrote on their papers to help them connect THEIR desires to what is happening in the moment. And then, when appropriate, you re-communicate that connection to the player. It might be in the moment in practice or it might be a 5-minute chat after practice.

Speak in simple terms like:

“Do you remember writing down here that what you want out of this team is to give yourself the best chance at a college scholarship? Why is it that you want that scholarship? Why is that
important to you? Tell me how what I am having us do right now contributes to you getting what you wrote here? Tell me how what you were doing (not doing) is in line with what YOU WANT?”

The reason why this communication technique is so beneficial is because of the fact that kids’ brains are not fully formed until their mid 20’s. And one big part of that functioning that is lacking until then is this concept:

Delayed gratification

No surprise right? The younger the kids are, the more they want instant gratification. Us adults are here to help them bridge that gap until their brain finally forms. So, what happens
is…in the moment of you asking them what they want to get out of playing on this team, they will tell you honestly. But let’s face it, a few weeks later during a boring practice, that moment is completely disconnected in their mind and it’s busy looking for some kind of instant gratification. Our job is to keep them connected to their own longer-term self-declared motivations and the best way to do that is to get them to write them down and you bring it back to them when needed. They can always update their motivation page too which gives them a sense of empowerment that contributes to them owning their confidence. Try this, you will be shocked at how many headaches you will avoid and how much more self-
motivated your players will become, especially in practice and training.

11) Model and teach leadership
When I went to my first “leadership” training, I went in with the impression that I was going to learn how to emulate great people I admired like Bill Gates, Martin Luther King jr. and Queen
Victoria (yep, look her up). I thought I was going to learn how to magically instill a power inside people that would make them want to give up everything and follow me to the ends of the earth to create amazing world discoveries and advances. (a bit of sarcasm intended here).

Boy was I wrong about what leadership meant and that’s where we started with the training.

So what does leadership mean in the context of coaching sports? Well, think about this… as a coach, you already are in a structured position with a group of people who are highly desiring to do whatever you say, so fantasies of what people think “leadership” means are a given in your position. They have volunteered to follow you already! So that’s not what we seek.

What I believe REAL, effective leadership can do for a coach is to evoke an emotional connection to a player that results in a player tapping into a reservoir of energy and determination that would otherwise go unused. Everyone has this “extra gear” as they say and you want that going for you with as many players as you can get it from, right?

How to get it?

Start by redefining what you think leadership is all about and it’s what I learned at my training:

True leadership is turning others into leaders.

This means having in mind your intention to groom everyone on your team to potentially become a leader themselves! With that intention coming from you in all of your communications, your leadership actions and choice of words should naturally follow. You won’t even have to try to remember any specifics like:
a. Be congruent with your teaching anything. Live what you teach.
b. Encourage people to pass on knowledge/assistance to others
c. Teach them to think for themselves in situations and remove barriers to doing that
d. Master your own emotions and show players how to do it. (Leaders don’t just scream at
people to get them to do things for them under penalty of harsh consequences.)
e. Help your players understand what makes people tick so they don’t make up self-destructive
stories and WANT to help/lead others.
f. Leaders inspire and encourage others…

Starting to get the picture here? Leadership is really about teaching others how to be leaders all the way down the organizational pyramid. Even your least-talented player will develop confidence from leading someone at something (even if it’s at home and not about sports) which then translates to overall confidence bleeding into improved sports performance. (bringing it back to your self-motivation to improve performance again!)

Craig Sigl is the Mental Toughness Trainer specializing in youth sports. Visit https://MentalToughnessTrainer.com/coach for FREE tips for coaches to teach mental toughness to their athletes.

Don’t forget to have fun

You want to win, we get that. You want all the hard work you put in during practice to pay off. But remember, these are just kids you’re coaching and kids mostly want to have fun. So don’t take it too seriously today. Crack some jokes. Smile. Make up some nicknames for your players. Do whatever you can to help your players understand that it’s not life and death out there. And, ironically, when they relax they’ll probably play better.

Coach Communication Part Two

By Craig Sigl

Let me just re-establish in Part Two here of this series that improving your communication with your athletes is the one area where your efforts will not be a choice between creating a fun/learning experience and striving for better wins/performance. It improves both!

Unfortunately many coaches far underestimate and underuse the power they have at their disposal and I aim to change that with these 18 tips in whole series!

Before I go on, one thing I failed to mention in part 1 is the importance of REPETITION of these communication messages. And if you missed Part One of the series, you can read it here.

In simple terms, don’t think you can just say any of these things once or twice in a pre-practice meeting and the kids will get it and you’re done. You need to give them spaced repetition (just like physical skills) on all of these communication techniques you are learning here and you must be consistent in applying them to ALL players, all season long, to have the maximum effect you want.

So here we go:

5) Identify and use each individual’s most powerful motivation strategy. The corporate world learned the lesson long ago that individuals respond and become motivated from different methods and means.

Some athletes do better when you leave them alone. Some actually like being pushed hard. Still others do better when they get positive encouragement. Many need to constantly be assured that they can make mistakes and not be punished and do best in an environment where their fears are allayed.

Do NOT make the mistake of falling into communication ruts of: “Well, this is the way I always do it for my players and it seems to work just fine.”

It may be working fine for you but you are missing out on bringing out your player’s full potential, or worse, contributing to their performance blocks with your rigid style.

Like I mentioned in part 1 and it bears repeating here, coaches sometimes need to be sold on how this type of communication flexibility not only contributes to a better environment for everyone, it results in better performance and therefore, more wins.

How do you find their motivations and what works for them? Just ask!!!

It shocks me to find when I ask a room full of coaches how many of them actually just ask their players (and/or their parents) what is the best way to motivate them.

Now, their answers won’t be the full picture and you might need to suggest some options like I mentioned above, but you can then just try different things and give your player permission to come back to you later and tell you that motivation method did or didn’t work.

Over time coach, with this new intention, you will find that you pick up on their motivations without even asking and you will find that next level of effort you so want from your players.

6) Do NOT underestimate the authority and influencing power your players give you. Many many athletes have told me in private sessions how a particular coach has literally played a significant part in shaping their lives beyond sports.

Now, you probably know about this, to some degree but I am telling you to take it more seriously and be mindful more often of how you use it. Even if you are coaching little kids in a rec league, in any given game or practice, you can have MUCH more influence over a kid than even their parents or teachers.

To maximize this idea, take a moment, right now, and consciously decide on what you want to impart to these kids as their coach. What will your theme or centerpiece idea of your coaching be that you want to impact your players with for the rest of their lives?

If you don’t choose this, then your communication will be more haphazard and random and not only risk underperformance, but dampen YOUR enjoyment and passion for being a coach. Why not go for a total satisfaction for the experience of coaching that’s WAY beyond winning in this way?

Wouldn’t it be amazing if, for an example, you chose to make your central coaching theme to be: Courage…and then at the end of the season, a parent or two comes up to you and reflects that back to you because they witness a more courageous kid at home from your coaching?…and oops, sorry – don’t you think a team full of kids who are more courageous than when you first got them are much more likely to get more wins? But then, winning is just a byproduct….hope you won’t be mad at me when your teams win more.

😉

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his freeebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com

Coach Communication – Part One

By Craig Sigl

Youth coaches have a difficult job and yet most are very passionate about their role which fuels them to take it on.

I want to address the big pink elephant in the room about youth coaching and that is the age-old balance between striving to win and developing players. Let’s face it, coaches want to win. Let’s accept that. Even coaches who preach that they have “fun” and “sportsmanship” and “life lessons” first STILL want to win, at heart, and we all know it.

I get it! I want my clients to win too and I celebrate right along with them when they succeed at achieving their goals. There is one area of coaching where you don’t have to make the choice between striving to win and developing players by putting your efforts into it and that is:

Coach to Player Communication

The ironic thing about coaches putting efforts into this area is that it definitely contributes to, and sometimes is the difference in, turning a team or player into a winner even if that’s not your main goal! I’ve got a 4-part series here on my best tips to help achieve both of those goals for you as a coach. Parents can learn just as much from this series.

1) Create the environment for your players to build their confidence.

I could write a book on confidence building but, the first and most efficient thing for a coach to do is to NOT do things to your players that hurts their confidence. You may be a passionate, loud coach who believes you have to be tough on your players but you also better be aware and read your player’s reactions to your yelling to see if you cross the line.

One of the most common things I have heard from athletes who come to with an issue is: Inconsistent confidence.

And so many times, a coach has been a big reason for the problem. If you aren’t sure about whether you cross the line in hurting your player’s confidence vs. giving good feedback, the best thing you can do is to consistently PRE-FRAME your style and how you give advice and coach. Like this:

“Team, listen, sometimes I yell at players. Sometimes I call players out and it might embarrass them. Sometimes I say things that even I am not proud of. It happens. I’m not perfect. But make no mistake…that even when I am doing those types of things, it does NOT mean that I don’t like you. It does NOT mean that I don’t think you are good enough to excel on this team. It does not mean anything but this:

I CARE so much about you succeeding here. Period. Nothing else and nothing less. So, please forgive me, in advance if I ever go over the line. DO NOT take it personally. It’s just me caring about and doing my best to make you successful. Got that!”

I would give that kind of speech often and you will have inoculated them for any confidence destruction from your actions. They will then build their confidence on the continuous improvements they make in skills and effort which you will praise regularly and everywhere.

2) Notice and call out team players and teamwork behaviors

There was a scene in the famous movie “Hoosiers” about a small-town school basketball team that went to the state championships. In that scene, early in the movie, the coach tells the players they must pass the ball 3 times before anyone takes a shot. One of his players violates this twice and makes both shots. The coach takes him out of the game. Fans and parents yell at the coach because they all want to win that game and that player seemed to have the hot hand. But the coach knew that teamwork was much more important that any single win in the long run.

You can see another example of this in the movie “Miracle” about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team which almost made me cry it was so good in how it showed this “teamwork” thing. Now, this is nothing new to coaches, right? You all know about this power. But many coaches don’t fully take advantage of it by calling it out on a regular basis, especially when they see it in their less-talented players. You need to put it on your radar to really look for players supporting each other in less than obvious ways (like right after a big score). Go all out to point out players who make unselfish assists in games AND practice. Notice who doesn’t ever complain when others do and tell them, individually how much you appreciate and notice that. Don’t fall into the trap of just giving the majority of your attention to your star players but certainly take the star player aside and tell them how much you appreciate how they built up or inspired a lesser player.

Truly, your team is only as good as the weakest links, and you know that deep down.

3) Consistent messages of open and honest communication with you.

You probably have a pre-season meeting with players and parents, great! You probably are good about post-game analyzing and recaps, even better! What you probably are not doing is giving your players the idea, through consistent messages, verbal AND non-verbal that you want them to come to you for your feedback on how they can improve.

Players are deathly afraid to talk to their coaches, even the friendly ones. Believe me, I’ve heard what they really think and won’t tell you or their parents. The more individual, personal, quick chats you have with each player on your team, the more they will get that message. Every person on earth wants to be recognized and acknowledged and kids need it even more since they base their entire identity on what others (especially adults) say to and about them.

Do not underestimate this and blow it off thinking: “I give my players lots of encouragement and advice.”

That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about going a level deeper into showing each player that you care about them as a person and an athlete. One key in doing this, is to get as specific as possible when giving feedback, good or bad. Don’t just tell a player they need to work on their shot. Don’t just tell them that they need to be more consistent. Don’t just tell them they need to be more aggressive. Get into details and specifics of what exactly they can do to improve their performance and HOW.

You don’t have to be warm and fuzzy about it. Do it with your own style, even if it’s a rough, tough style.

You know what I mean. Do it and reap the rewards of players who will do anything to please you.

Stay tuned for part 2 coming next

Craig Sigl’s work with youth athletes has been featured on NBC TV and ESPN. Get his free ebook: “The 10 Commandments For a Great Sports Parent” and also a free training and .mp3 guided visualization to help young athletes perform under pressure by visiting: http://MentalToughnessTrainer.com