If you were coaching a team playing a crucial match, what would you say to your players at half-time if the team was losing badly, with your team members despondent and frustrated?

Would it be more effective to yell at them, motivating them by shaming them? In other words, to point out the stupid mistakes and tell them not to make them again?

Or would it be better to be sympathetic, and gently encourage them to try to do better?

It turns out that none of these approaches are particularly effective.

Successful coaches have a way of looking at what has happened which is different to ordinary coaches.

To be clear, successful coaches don’t shrink from tackling poor performance on the sports field, but they do it very differently from the ordinary coaches.

Even when their team is doing poorly, they start off by focussing on what is going right and what is working, identifying and reinforcing the things that they want to occur again. These coaches change the way the players think about the mistakes that were made or opportunities that were lost, by treating them as opportunities to learn and grow from.

In other words, the successful coaches identify specific examples of the positive behaviour they want to see again, and reinforce how that behaviour will enable the team to capitalise on a weakness on the other side or prevent a problem from occurring.

In simple terms, no matter if their team is winning or losing, successful coaches do two things:

  • They praise the things their team is doing well, encouraging the team to continue doing them. For example: “Jean, you are doing well marking your opposition player, and not letting her control the play. Keep on doing that to will prevent her from getting into the game.”
  • They also identify mistakes and lost opportunities that occurred, explaining how they can be prevented by the team doing what they are good at. For example: “Jean, you also got distracted by the opposition shooter just before the whistle went, and then you took your eye off your opposition player. That’s when they made the breakthrough and they scored. So concentrate on marking your opposition player and that will prevent them from getting through again. OK?”

So what does this have to do with you?

You can apply the secrets of successful coaches to your life through three simple steps with three associated questions:

  1.  Review your past successes, and identify the few critical things you did that led to the success. This will help you identify your strengths. Ask yourself: “What do I do easily and naturally that lead to that success?”
  2.  Then use your strengths to cope with tough times in your life. Ask yourself: “How can I use my abilities and those things that I am good at in this difficult situation?”
  3.  We all fail, make mistakes and miss opportunities. When this happens to you, rather than beat yourself up, ask yourself: “What positive can come from this experience, or what can I learn from it, so that I don’t make the same mistake in the future?”

Apply the secrets of successful coaches with these three simple steps and questions and you too can be a star performer!