Effective Praise


One of my favorite past times is coaching. I’ve spent years coaching both youth sports and Special Olympics and have been lucky enough to pick up some tips along the way. Effective Praise is one of the best kept, underestimated, secrets to motivate athletes and especially teams to perform well. Praising is something that we naturally do but using the following tips have been proven to make anyone perform better and more consistently. Effective praise builds confidence and creates “winning streaks’ ultimately leading to more success.


Tips for Effective Praise:

  1. Be specific – You want to be as detailed as possible when telling people what they did correct. Just saying “good job” is not enough, it does not allow them to know what they did right so that they can do it again. Make sure the athlete knows why you are praising them. Ask yourself what they did right or why did they do it right. A better example of effective praise would be “nice job keeping your elbow in and following through with your shot.
  2. Let it stand alone – It is so easy to clutter praise with critiques. When you have more critiques then you do effective praise, the praise gets lost and means very little (if anything) to the person receiving it.
  3. Be Sensitive – Not everyone likes to be in the spot light and prefer public displays of praise. Knowing your athletes means knowing how they would like to be praised, for some that means pulling them aside to tell them what they did right. Being sensitive to this helps build trust between you and your athlete.
  4. Effort counts – The player or team does not have to execute perfectly to deserve some praise, acknowledge them for their effort. We all know that sometimes we can do everything right and still not get the expected outcome, that effort should not be ignored. Especially when trying to build confidence with a new skill or sport, giving effect praise for effort and improvement can go a long way.
  5. Pay attention to detail – Praise them for things that may not be so obvious. When you can pick up on the little things that proves to the athlete that not only do you care about them but you are paying attention to what they are doing.
  6. Let it vary– You do not need to acknowledge every time that someone does something right. Effective praise should be more often when they are learning a new skill and can be given less often as their talent advances. Also, it’s important to acknowledge good things across different skills and not always focus on one thing.

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