I stumbled across THIS ARTICLE while trolling the internet and eating my lunch. It talks about human psychology and the words we choose as praise. The article focuses on the educational setting, but it is extremely applicable to sports and coaching. Some of the main points I picked up from the article are:
1) Praise effort, not results. Results will come with continued effort.
2) Look at the components. Keep the focus of praise on different phases or aspects of the athlete’s performance.
3) Avoid comments that are generic like, You did great! and You are so fast. They only set up the individual to think they are what you say. So when they don’t do great and they don’t run fast, they then begin to doubt their ability and the praise.
4) Challenging activities cause changes in the body and brain. Simple huh? Yet the fear of failure can hand-cuff many individuals when the ability is there.
5) Last, the author has a great quote between him and his young son:
This is a great read for anyone interested in the human psyche and how to create a better coach-athlete connection.