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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Rutgers Reality Check- Part 3

{This is the final installment of the three-part series from Todd Patkin in response to the recent events at Rutgers University. Read Part 1 & Part 2.}

Does the coach scout each practice for all-stars?
It’s practically impossible for anyone to hear too many good things about themselves. On the sports field, compliments act as confidence—and thus performance—boosters, and they also improve motivation, team spirit, determination, and more. With that in mind, a good coach will always start each practice with the intention of catching as many players as possible doing well, then praise them in public and in private whenever the opportunity arises.

“And if she wants to go the extra mile, a great coach might even send out a team newsletter that includes short write-ups of players who improve, who are team players, who give their all in practice, etc.,” Patkin adds. “Again, kids will work hard to keep getting recognized because it simply feels good. Who knows—they might remember a coach’s praise for the rest of their lives!”

Has the coach added “positive thinking” to his or her paraphernalia?
All coaches have clipboards, whistles, and water bottles—and they should all have a positive attitude, too! With few exceptions, players will develop their attitudes, outlooks, and expectations based on what they see from their leaders. Coaches should be proactive about...
...getting their teams in a winning mindset by saying things like, “We’re going to have a great practice today,” or, “I know everyone will do their best during the game,” etc.

“Here’s a great saying I’ve found to be true: People generally perform at the level that is expected of them,” reports Patkin. “So without putting negative pressure on the athletes, your child’s coach should let them know that she believes in their ability to accomplish great things. I can’t help but think of Lou Holtz, the legendary college football coach whose philosophy of positive thinking was instrumental in inspiring his teams to achieve many amazing successes, often against the odds.

“If you’re still not convinced, consider the well-known study conducted by Harvard’s Robert Rosenthal in the mid-'60s. Teachers were given a list of students in their classes who were supposedly on the cusp of an academic growth spurt—but in reality, the children on the list had been randomly selected. Now, here’s the interesting part: That school year, the children who had been identified as ‘special’ performed much better than their peers (who, remember, were actually no different)… because the teachers had expected them to achieve and treated them accordingly. Let me tell you, the same thing can happen with coaches and athletes. Look for a coach who expects the best from her players and you won’t be disappointed.”

“Obviously, you should try to avoid becoming the type of ‘helicopter parent’ that is fast becoming a stereotype in our society,” Patkin concludes. “But at the same time, always be vigilant. If you aren’t able to sit in on practices every now and then, ask your kids, regardless of whether they’re in Little League or the College World Series, how they feel about their coaches. Don’t hesitate to step in if you feel that a coach’s attitude or actions are harmful to your child. If possible, discuss the situation with your child before approaching the coach so that your child doesn’t feel blindsided or betrayed by your involvement. Ultimately, though, always remember that no sport or tournament or trophy is worth sacrificing your child’s self-esteem and emotional well-being.”

— Written by Todd Patkin, author of Finding Happiness Twelve Weeks to Finding Happiness: Boot Camp for Building Happier People

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