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Coaching question: when to say something positive and when to stay quiet

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  • Coaching question: when to say something positive and when to stay quiet

    Coaches, I am curious about when you choose to give a positive verbal encouragement to a player? Is this something that you have thought about before-hand? is it stylistic? Is not saying something encouraging a deliberate choice?



  • #2
    There is a theory in pedagogy that you should say 2-3 positive things for every negative/critical thing (not sure what is the scientifc base for it but it is in every "how to be a good boss" article) but I also think you shouldn't overdo it.

    If you say good swing on every other swing even if the contact was mediocre players might not take the encouragement seriously anymore.

    It depends on the kid. Some kids only want to hear what to do better and feel offended on compliments on mediocre swings and others feel offended by even constructive criticism and need a lot of encouragement.
    Last edited by dominik; 11-06-2019, 11:34 AM.
    I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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    • #3
      Well regarded sports psychologists (and baseball coaches) have written on this subject, guys like Dorfman, Kuehl, Ravizza.... Obviously it's stylistic and for good coaches a conscious choice. I'm supposing (sorry) in your case that it irks you that Johnny's coach is not effusive with praise and may be more vocal with supposedly negative utterances. Throw into this mix the even more important "body language" dynamic and a recipe has been created for a stewing, anxious parent, especially if they carry a predisposition for such.
      Major Figure

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      • #4
        As a coach, I reserved praise for very (few) specific times. If I had you playing a lot in important games/situations, then that's all that has to be said IMO -I trust you to make the play -this is the understood (unspoken) respect between a coach and a player. This is what I grew up with and how I coached. Strangely, when I teach in the classroom, I give much more encouragement -closer to what dominik said, but I had to learn to do this.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by omg View Post
          Well regarded sports psychologists (and baseball coaches) have written on this subject, guys like Dorfman, Kuehl, Ravizza.... Obviously it's stylistic and for good coaches a conscious choice. I'm supposing (sorry) in your case that it irks you that Johnny's coach is not effusive with praise and may be more vocal with supposedly negative utterances. Throw into this mix the even more important "body language" dynamic and a recipe has been created for a stewing, anxious parent, especially if they carry a predisposition for such.

          Thanks for the name suggestions about who to read. It does seem that being parsimonious with positive reinforcement for certain kids is part of the coaching culture. I was looking to gain an understanding first, so that I could respond appropriately when the situation arises. I also thought it might be an interesting discussion thread for a coaching forum. But, sure, there is some truth in what you deduced. My kid was upset after a workout last night with a new coach. He showed a lot of effort and hustle in the workout. It did seem like one positive word from the authority figure would have made a world of difference, but none was forthcoming. This is my son's general experience. So, I am curious if there are certain kid arctypes or behaviors that lead to this type of coaching. That way I can respond with positive suggestions for him - in the spirit of "control what you can control".

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          • #6
            There are some guys who say "if I don't say anything negative consider it a compliment". It is a bit old school (like bosses were 20-30 years ago) but some are still that way.
            I now have my own non commercial blog about training for batspeed and power using my training experience in baseball and track and field.

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            • #7
              It depends on age. I was overly positive coaching preteens. Starting with 13u I was a little more stoic. I would give calm, high five well dones. I only went off on three players. In each case it was an egregious discipline issue not a baseball issue.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by baseabllmom View Post
                My kid was upset ...new coach...one positive word from the authority figure would have made a world of difference .....That way I can respond ...in the spirit of "control what you can control".
                Okay, so in the very first workout with a new coach there were bad feelings. It's great that you're involved, it really is, but perhaps you are unwittingly the instigator of the bad feelings.

                Uh, gee, I don't know, let's see, uh, maybe if your kid was truly upset you could say to him "yeah, you know by now that's the way most of these coaches are, just gotta go with it...."

                Some kids get upset not because the coach didn't praise them. They get upset because coach praised three other kids but didn't praise them.
                Major Figure

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by dominik View Post
                  There is a theory in pedagogy that you should say 2-3 positive things for every negative/critical thing .
                  IMO, this is basic commonsense leadership.








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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dominik View Post
                    There is a theory in pedagogy that you should say 2-3 positive things for every negative/critical thing (not sure what is the scientifc base for it but it is in every "how to be a good boss" article) but I also think you shouldn't overdo it.
                    The new word is that the "praise sandwich" (which I know you didn't specifically refer to) is no good... https://www.fastcompany.com/3067551/...-good-feedback

                    I don't think a coach needs a certain ratio of positive to negative. Just be kind and honest. I think kids can spot fake positivity and it becomes meaningless. But I think there is real power in authentic positivity.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dominik View Post
                      There are some guys who say "if I don't say anything negative consider it a compliment". It is a bit old school (like bosses were 20-30 years ago) but some are still that way.
                      thanks Dominik - that's a good line and a useful perspective.

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                      • #12
                        How many old school coaches are still out there? I had old school coaches in high school and college in the 70’s. When I coached out of college I was a little bit old school and a little more open than most coaches given I was 23 coaching 15 year olds. I could still relate to them. By the time I returned to coaching I was 40 coaching 7/8 girls. Old school doesn’t work with little kids or girls. Preteen ball is supposed to be fun. My only lack of patience was for kids who screwed around in practice.

                        By the time I was coaching softball for girls on their way to college ball and baseball for boys on their way to college ball the kids were self disciplined. They were training and playing with a purpose. I went off on three 13u baseball players for their behavior. It never happened again. Maybe the ten who stayed three years saw the fire and blood in my eyes and didn’t dare act up. Other than those instances I was quite stoic.

                        My son was one I went off on. He threw his bat over the stands after whiffing to end a 13u game, down one with the bases loaded. It was probably his first, game on the line, it’s on me failure in his life. That night when everything was calm he commented my eyes were on fire. He said I looked like a homicidal maniac when I chewed him out behind the dugout. I did go too far. I never would have gone after another kid the way I went after my son.

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                        • #13
                          Jett - you and I live in neighboring states - right? Perhaps they all moved across the border .



                          I would like to give props to the coach for his effort. It wasn't a baseball team workout, but the first session of the offseason agility program. My son was put in with the older kids group, so it was a skinny 11 year old and two kids who look like offensive lineman. It was a really well done workout. The coach had clearly thought about what he wanted to accomplish and put together a nice series of drills. Lots of different ways to work on getting a good first step. It looked professional, tiring, and enjoyable because it is probably really fun to move like that.








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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bbrages View Post

                            The new word is that the "praise sandwich" (which I know you didn't specifically refer to) is no good... https://www.fastcompany.com/3067551/...-good-feedback

                            I don't think a coach needs a certain ratio of positive to negative. Just be kind and honest. I think kids can spot fake positivity and it becomes meaningless. But I think there is real power in authentic positivity.
                            yep, can't stand the idea of constant praise for fear of hurting someone's ego Constant praise is just as bad as the abusive coach. Let's give Johnny a high five for striking out -way to go! Good effort! Coached a 12u team with a guy like that. The guy got no respect because the kids considered him to be full of it. By the time kids are 10, most know what's a fake compliment and well they should. If their drive is for external praise, they won't go far because they're doing it for the wrong reasons. Kids who set their own standards and goals will be far more successful. They need very little praise because they know when they've done well.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bluedawg View Post

                              yep, can't stand the idea of constant praise for fear of hurting someone's ego Constant praise is just as bad as the abusive coach. Let's give Johnny a high five for striking out -way to go! Good effort! .
                              13-and-older:
                              Constant praise is bad. It's fake.
                              Generally speaking, excess of anything is excessive.
                              But I look to make positive comments or gestures whenever I can--when I'm leading men at work, or players on the field.
                              To our CF: Nice jump.
                              To our basestealer: That was a heck of a slide.
                              To our batter at second base after a hustle-double: A thumbs-up.
                              Etc, etc, etc.
                              This stuff costs you nothing, and puts money in the bank to offset negative/constructive criticism.

                              Some leaders are intentionally tight-a$$ with compliments. It's a conscious leadership technique. I think they're wrong; but at least it's intentional.
                              Other leaders are simply tight-a$$ to their core. Cheap.

                              Last edited by skipper5; 11-07-2019, 07:08 AM.
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