Over the course of a game or practice, athletes will make mistakes – especially if they are under pressure or learning something new. When a coach believes that mistakes are not acceptable, athletes can play fearfully and be afraid to try anything new. This impacts their ability to learn and develop.

By creating a positive, supportive team environment, coaches have the power to help athletes reframe mistakes and treat them as growth opportunities. When athletes feel supported regardless of if they make a mistake or not, they’ll be more likely to:

  • Feel engagement and enjoyment for the sport
  • Attempt new skills and develop mastery
  • Overcome mistakes and learn from them
  • Support their teammates through rough patches

Coaches Can:

  • Incorporate ‘learning from mistakes’ into a team philosophy and use it daily to remind athletes that mistakes are a pathway to improvement
  • Teach athletes about ‘mistake rituals’ – physical gestures they can use, individually or as a team, to overcome mistakes in the moment and refocus on the game. Encourage athletes to create a team mistake ritual to use throughout the season.
  • Praise effort and improvement over results so athletes can focus on what they can control and feel successful, even if the result wasn’t successful
  • Ask permission before providing specific feedback to ensure athletes are ready to hear suggestions for improvement