How many times have you heard that from an athlete?
Keeping score in a game is a form of feedback. Losing (achieving something that delivers negative feedback) feels bad. Winning (achieving something that delivers positive feedback) feels good. Why? Because it’s science, that’s why.
The job of a youth coach is to help their athletes develop the skills, attitudes, and habits that will enable them to achieve success on and off the ice, field, or court. It’s a complex job, demanding a lot more than just ‘X and O’ sport knowledge, because coaches aren’t really coaching a sport, they’re coaching people. And when those people are only 6, or 10, or 14 years old, the complexity level shoots way up.
The challenge for youth coaches is to help developing athletes reach for their highest potential as they navigate the path to becoming competent, confident, competitive, and resilient adults. In a sport sometimes criticized for being ‘old school’, continuing education programs provided by organizations like Hockey Canada and USA Hockey, and forums like The Coaches Site Conference are immensely valuable because they provide access to new thinking that can help coaches make a difference. From small area games to edge work and puck skills drills, from alternative zone entries to off ice fitness programs and helmet impact sensors, innovation is definitely part of the game now.
As the creators of PowerPlayer, we’re focused on innovating in a specific area: communication as a development tool, performance enhancer, and relationship builder. We believe that when it comes to feedback and athletic performance, frequency and positivity wins not only with young athletes, but also with their parents.
For us — and for the organizations and coaches who are adopting our platform — positivity isn’t some new age ‘everyone gets a trophy because kids want to be coddled’ concept. It’s a teaching and coaching technique rooted in science.
Positive feedback makes us feel good. But beyond the psychological impact, a number of studies by sports scientists have investigated whether or not positive or negative coach feedback might impact an athlete’s physiology and performance.
In one study, a group of professional rugby players was shown game clips of their in-game successes with only positive coach commentary. Another group was shown clips with only their mistakes and critical coach commentary. A third group was given no video or commentary. All of the athletes were tested for free testosterone (the hormone that generates ‘compete level’ among other things) and cortisol (often referred to as the stress / fight or flight hormone) levels before and after exposure to the feedback protocols. And all were physically tested and had their game play performances ranked over time as the experiment continued.
What were the results?
Basically, the study showed greater free testosterone and lower cortisol levels (that ratio is more likely to produce favorable athletic results) in the players who’d been exposed to positive feedback, and resulted in superior physical testing and game play ratings for the positive feedback group compared to the other two groups. The conclusion was that it was possible to positively influence the free hormonal state and game performance of athletes simply by providing positive coach feedback.
Another study showed that athletes who received positive feedback combined with specific error cues and correction instruction (prescriptive feedback) developed skill confidence faster than athletes who received only prescriptive feedback. In other words, positivity wins.
And yes, it’s science.
Feedback is fuel.
We suggest — and scientific evidence seems to confirm — that if coaches want to give players the best chance to become winners, it pays to remind them from time to time that they’re becoming winners. It makes sense to let athletes know that everyone’s personal development and learning process is continuous, that even seasoned professionals make mistakes and have bad days, and that as a coach you’re there for them. And of course it’s always a good idea to help them identify and understand specific ways to improve.
The PowerPlayer platform is designed to make all of that easy.
Positive coaching doesn’t mean shying away from pointing out areas for focus, or from helping athletes to understand and correct mistakes or change their behavior. It just means doing your best as their coach to always provide instruction in a positive context. It means remembering that the 6, 10, or 14 year olds we work with are still basically unformed blobs of swirling hormones (especially the 14 year olds!) and that our own actions as their teachers and advisors can tilt their internal scales from confident and motivated to anxious and discouraged pretty quickly.
Want to help your players feel, act, and perform like winners? Remember that feedback is fuel. And that positive feedback is rocket fuel.
Want to give your team the power of positive prescriptive feedback? Give us a buzz.
Title image: Wikimedia
If you’re coaching youth team sports, you’re coaching other people’s kids — which means you’re coaching parents too. In any successful relationship, communication is essential. The challenge in coaching, of course, is time.Read Post
As a player, I would have loved to get this kind of feedback. I always wanted to be first, to be the best. But how could I know what my coach was thinking about me? Not every player is ready to ask their coach questions — some people are just shy — and I’m talking about players from minor hockey all the way to pro.Read Post
I flipped on the NHL Network the other day. While I usually don’t pay too much attention to the panel discussion stuff they broadcast ahead of games, this time something got my attention.
Apparently Jamie Benn was in a bit of a slump.Read Post
I love the drills and metrics for sure, and so do the kids, but seriously, the most useful thing for me personally is the ability to coach from home.Read Post
Ever notice how people just seem to operate at higher levels when they perceive the thing they’re doing to be ‘fun’? That applies to sports, study, and whatever it is most of us do at our day jobs.Read Post
Kids who are positively reinforced by the people who surround them tend to be more confident, happy, and energetic, and are much more likely to succeed than those who may have similar skill sets, but who are less emotionally secure.Read Post
Anticipation is building as a new hockey season approaches. Maybe it’s the comfort of old gloves holding the promise of a new stick that does it? Maybe it’s the idea that a new season offers an opportunity to build on time-tested knowledge by applying new thinking? At PowerPlayer, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to build on what we learned in 2017-18 — our first full season offering a digital feedback platform for youth hockey.Read Post
“You can’t do player development without coach development. And that’s why it’s so important that you’re all here.” Dave Starman / NCAA Scout, Montreal Canadiens.Read Post
Strong personal intangibles and team chemistry have a multiplier effect on talent. Poor personal intangibles and team chemistry have a diminishing effect.Read Post
Because positivity is contagious, it generates a galvanizing force that supercharges skill sets and work ethics. That force is called confidence.Read Post
When we share feedback through PowerPlayer we know we’re sharing the beginning of a conversation that might never take place otherwise. How cool is that?Read Post
For young athletes—and by ‘young’ I mean anyone who is not an adult—the answer to ‘Which wolf wins?’ could easily be ‘The one their coach feeds.’Read Post
Today more than ever, one of the biggest decisions a coach can make is how they choose to communicate with their players.Read Post
For millions of kids, parents and coaches, the season is winding down. And all over the hockey world, the thought of a standard one-on-one, end of season coach/player/parent meeting is a stress-inducing prospect for many on both sides of the table.Read Post
I think we need parents to be part of the teams we’re coaching. If parents understand what I’m seeing in their child and can help me motivate them or address something that needs to be addressed, that’s hugely beneficial to their child, to me, and to the team.Read Post
Consisting of three parts, the formula involves providing feedback to young athletes at every stage of the development process as a way to help build their confidence.Read Post
“When you throw the ball, three things can happen and two of them are bad. But you’ve still got to throw the ball.”Read Post
“We’re seeing huge improvements in our kids now and we’re excited to roll PowerPlayer out to more and more of our players in a big way in 2018.”Read Post
“PowerPlayer really helps bring clarity to coaching, and I’m a big believer in communicating with players.”Read Post
“We wouldn’t accept a teacher telling us that our child had failed a grade at the end of the year without any warning or aid in helping them succeed, so why would we allow our players to go through a season without continuous feedback?”Read Post
We’ve shared PowerPlayer with countless coaches, hockey directors, and parents, and we’re working with organizations from Anchorage to Philadelphia, from Syracuse to Sweden. No one has told us they think providing meaningful feedback to kids and their parents is a bad idea.Read Post
“The coach-player-parent dynamic is critical. Always tell players what you see and what to work on, because feedback is critical.” Ray Ferraro / Coaches Site Conference 2017Read Post
Team success largely depends on mutual respect, common purpose and uncommon selflessness. In other words, team success depends on intangibles.Read Post
Before your accountant became a professional accountant, before your dentist became a professional dentist, and before the leading scorer in the NHL became a professional hockey player, they were kids.Read Post
Anyone who’s ever been part of a team—either as a player or as a coach—where things have just clicked, or conversely, have never clicked at all no matter what you did, has been subject to the power of group dynamics.Read Post
For many hockey players, a tryout or showcase camp is essentially a snapshot taken from a long, long movie. It can’t tell enough of the story to be meaningful.Read Post
For coaches, a big part of the challenge is communicating in a meaningful way with kids and parents on a regular basis. We’ve adopted PowerPlayer as an organization because it provides opportunities for coaches to share comments, thoughts, video clips, ratings and real metrics with the players and their parents more frequently.Read Post
Even though I grew up in Buffalo, where winter totally rules, my sport growing up was baseball. Sure I watched the Sabres as a casual fan, but my knowledge of hockey was limited to hating Brett Hull. Google it!Read Post
If you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, or maybe even if you haven’t, you might be familiar with the 10,000 hour concept, which postulates that it takes that minimum number of hours of ‘deliberate practice’ to become ‘expert’ at something. Like chess, piano, ballet. Or hockey.Read Post
Growing up with a father who’s been a highly respected member of the Rochester NY-area hockey community for more than 40 years, Chris Collins has led a hockey life.Read Post
A while back, I connected with a friend who’d spent part of his summer sitting in a hockey rink watching his 10 year-old run through some drills. And he was frustrated. Not because of what was happening on the ice during the camp, but because of what wasn’t happening.Read Post
For millions of kids (and their parents), September means two things: back to school and back to the rink.Read Post
We sat down with coach and skating / skills instructor Stan Kondrotas to get his impressions of PowerPlayer following his first season as a ‘power user.’Read Post
We just spent a couple of weekends at The Coaches Site / TeamSnap 2016 Hockey Coaches Conferences. As sponsors, we were there to introduce PowerPlayer to the coaches in attendance, but we also learned a thing or two about the state of hockey.Read Post
In 2015, a nine-year-old BC kid quit his team with two games left in the season. Seems he’d had enough of sitting on the bench game after game, crying while he watched his teammates play. Why was he denied the opportunity to play?Read Post
Essentially, our current youth hockey measurement system prioritizes games, where effort can produce wins, and virtually ignores practices, where effort can produce winners.Read Post
I grew up with sports. And, oh yeah, of course… school! One of those things was arguably more fun than the other, and the rewards they offered differed, but for any real chance of success, both required not just attention but commitment.Read Post