Fill Their Tanks
The Positive Coaching Alliance talks about each athlete having an emotional tank. This emotional tank is like a gas tank for a car. Just as an automobile needs gas to run, an athlete needs their emotional tank filled in order to perform.
I like to think of each athlete having an emotional bank account. These accounts get filled with positive feedback. Every specific positive reinforcement we give to our athletes acts as a deposit into their emotional bank account. Conversely, every criticism, every sarcastic comment, and every negative reaction acts as a withdrawal from this emotional bank account.
When their account is full, they have confidence. They have more peace of mind. They realize they can make mistakes and it won't drain their emotional accounts to zero. And, like a savings or investment account, the longer the account is full, the more opportunity there is to take advantage of compound interest. All of the positives interact with each other and create super-positives!
When their accounts are drained, they lack confidence. They play in fear of making mistakes, which leads to more mistakes. They are constantly on edge because they feel as if they have no margin for error. This is a terrible way to play and a terrible way to live.
As coaches and parents, it is our responsibility to fill our players' emotional accounts. We make deposits by giving specific, positive feedback toward the controllable actions of our players. Some examples on the youth baseball field include:
-"I like the way you ran hard all the way through first base!"
-"Way to hustle out to your position!"
-"It was impressive to see you keep your composure and not complain about that called third strike that went against you."
We must also be careful about dishing out meaningless, cursory compliments and positive statements. Our positive feedback must be specific and effort-based. Let's avoid being "Good job" coaches and parents: someone who says "Good job" for everything that happens, thus taking away its positive impact.
And we must be careful not to give false praise to our players and our children for things they aren't mastering. They are smart. They can see right through this. This false praise erodes their trust in us.
Make it a point to fill their accounts every day at home, at every practice, and during every game. A confident person is more willing to learn and grow. A confident person is more likely to have fun. A confident person is more apt to persevere through challenges.
Make it a great day!