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Coaching At Home


At Positive Coaching Alliance we believe life is a team sport. Given the abrupt ending of the athletic season, we want to provide all of the resources necessary to empower moms and dads everywhere to play the role of coach for that team. We couldn’t think of a better sub!

Below is a list of practical coaching exercises that parents can adapt to ensure positive experiences and positive outcomes for their children while at home:

Fill Emotional Tanks. Being couped up each day at home can be a very trying time for your children and your overall family dynamic and it’s important to know that in general, praise has a more powerful and long-lasting impact on development than criticism or correction. So much so that on the playing field we know it takes a five-to-one ratio of positive to negative input (at least) to maintain a relationship where an athlete is progressing and performing at their peak capability. Striving to maintain a five-to-one ratio may also prove to be helpful more generally if this difficult time begins to place strain on relationships.

Teach mastery by focusing on effort, learning, and mistakes (ELM). We know that athletes thrive and improve when they maintain a growth mindset and focus on what is in their immediate control. Parents can help their children acquire and maintain this way of thinking by helping them focus on what is within their immediate control and by showing them the ways in which those “controllables” are leading to improvement. Help your child learn that mistakes (especially when they are learning a new skill using maximum effort) are an essential part of the learning process and that they must “flush” a mistake from their psyche to move on to the important next play.

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Be a “Double-Goal Coach.” Our fundamental model of excellent coaching is one in which the coach is constantly working to improve athletes’ skills and to help the athletes learn important life lessons. Sports can teach life lessons beautifully and vice-versa. As you coach your own children at home, help them see the points where the skills you’re developing will be useful in their daily goals as they adjust to this new normal.

Honor the Game by respecting its ROOTS. Effective coaches place value on modeling and teaching that great athletes and teams show deep respect for the Rules, Opponents, Officials, their Teammates, and themSelves At home parents can maximize their coaching effectiveness by modeling this respect in their conduct and in how they talk. They can point to the many examples of great athletes whose respect for these elements has paid dividends in performance, resilience, and longevity. 

Some simple, no-nonsense coaching best practices:

  • Talk less and get more repetitions. Repetition is more valuable to athletic development than complex instruction. If you have to talk, make one quick point and get back to doing the skill.
  • If you need to correct, focus on one thing. In keeping with the idea above, avoid lists of corrections. You’re better off getting actual improvement of one discrete element of a skill than talking about several but seeing no functional improvement.
  • Provide positive, specific praise relentlessly. Rather than “good job,” try praise like, “great footwork on that one.” Remember that praise is a far more effective tool than correction.
  • Show joy. Don’t expect kids to develop love and enjoyment of a sport by being around coaching that doesn’t model love and enjoyment of the sport. The magical effectiveness of the constantly scowling, abrasive coach is a myth we’ve internalized from movies and other media.

Life is a team sport, and now more than ever, we need to be good teammates to one another. 

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