How do we create a positive environment for players to have fun and learn in?
One of the first things to consider is, as players arrive, to ask them how their day has been. It’s a simple idea, but it will really help you to establish an understanding on how they are feeling. They may have had swimming and a cross country run that day, so will be physically tired. Their pet hamster may have died the night before so may be emotionally upset. You can find out with a quick - “How’s your day gone?”. As you start the arrival activity, allow them some time just to play. You can then stand back for a few minutes to observe how the social interaction is among the group. This is a great way to see how the dynamics in the group can change, even weekly.
Once the group is there, share the session with them all. Let them know what to expect. I like to have the basics of the session on a board or flip-chart paper for them to see. This allows them to already start the thinking process of how they will achieve set challenges. When you’re coaching ask yourself “how much is instructional and how much is questioning?” When you ask the question do you then allow them to answer and try to implement this into the session? Be brave and change the session if the learning objectives need this. Young players can have a different view on how sessions look and have great ideas.
Behaviours Do you understand your own and the impact it has on the players? How you behave is how the players behave. Never forget who the role model is. Our behaviour is controllable. Create an environment where it is good to try new ideas - it is good to learn from mistakes. Let the players know and remind them they are with us to have fun and learn. Supportive behaviour - reinforces desired behaviour, effort and encouragement following mistakes. Understanding our own behaviour may require only small changes to have a large impact on player learner and motivation. Don’t always show the mistakes but also stop the session to show the positives! A positive environment decreases fear of failure and anxiety!
Your coaching philosophy is part of your ingredients which makes the recipe of the environment you are setting. What is your coaching philosophy? Do you share this with your players? What is your club’s? (do you even agree with this?) How often do you reflect on this and even maybe re-think and re-change yours? What do you do with your players to create a positive learning environment?