As I’m sure you can imagine, I love chatting with other coaches about our profession. I was talking to another volleyball coach and asked him what he’d want me to see if I walked into his gym during a practice. He said connectedness.
For him, connectedness looked like great communication between players, high energy from coaches, and players holding one another accountable. He said he didn’t want a mistake to go by without players communicating to make sure it didn’t happen again.
According to Daniel Coyle on his blog, talented groups create “a shared place where mistakes [aren’t] hidden, but discussed in the clear light of day.” Sounds a lot like my coaching friend’s gym.
So how can we create this atmosphere? Where players discuss mistakes rather than roll their eyes?
3 ways to create a space for athletes to learn from mistakes
- Talk about it. Let your players know that mistakes are okay. I always tell my team at the first practice of the season that they’ll make lots of mistakes over the course of the season…some big, some small. As long as they make different mistakes, we’re good.
- Be consistent. It’s helpful to have some sort of process for discussing mistakes. Figuring that out ahead of time will help keep feelings from getting hurt. If you’ve got an open policy in your gym, then freshmen should be able to critique a senior. Whatever your team dynamics, be sure that everyone is on the same page.
- Model it. Admit your own mistakes. Hopefully your story of mistakes has a positive ending you can use to motivate your team.
Let’s help our athletes connect by working through their mistakes together.