Lowering the Bar – False Praise


I certainly believe in positive reinforcement and praise for great effort and outcomes. I also understand how important self-esteem and self-image is in teaching and coaching, but we have gone overboard with praise for mediocrity in order to build self-esteem. In every situation there are minimum expectations and standards that must be met to be part of the team. I emphasize minimum standards. Meeting those minimum standards does not warrant praise, those are expectations that everyone must meet. The same is true of effort; everyone is expected to go all out, plain and simple, no exceptions. So to praise someone for going all out is hollow and meaningless. The touchy feely feel good folks who have ruined a generation of kids would not agree, you must praise everything. That is pure bunk. We know from research and from results in front of our eyes everyday that false praise has the opposite effect; it makes the praise meaningless and ineffective, possible even lowering self-esteem. Praise those efforts and actions that exceed expectations, not those that just meet expectations. If I see one more bumper sticker proclaiming their kid an honor student I am going scream. Everyone can’t be an honor student, everyone can’t earn a varsity letter, there has to be a high standard to warrant an honor (praise). Lets raise the bar, not lower it. The level of expectation definitely will determine the level of achievement. Praising average work as great trivializes great. From a coaches perspective it seriously erodes your credibility and soon will render you ineffective. Be a John Wooden, select and measure your words carefully, instruct and teach, praise the extraordinary not the average. Hold yourself and those you teach and coach to a higher standard.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
RT @GreatestQuotes: Your aspirations are your possibilities. - Samuel Johnson - 4 years ago
Vern Gambetta

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