In Little League coaching, the suggesting rule of thumb is 5-1, positive to negative. Say 5 positive things to a player for each correcting or critical observation you make. It works. They learn faster, play better, have more fun.
I learned this a few years ago when I coached my son's team and found it is not my natural way. I am quite good at spotting what is "wrong" and suggesting what should be done to "improve."
I was raised by two parents who watched quite carefully and commented on any shortcoming, error or misstep they saw in their children. It often seemed that love itself was conditional on good behavior (and to some degree on good manners and general appearance.) It certainly wasn't enough in my family to simply be.
I sometimes have to fight this now in myself and in the way I treat my own children (and others). Being truly positive is a challenge. The negative is often trying to find its way in, as if it were just as "good" to see what is wrong as to see what is good. It isn't.
So in this spirit, be on guard against negative thoughts and feelings about life around you, and yourself. Try to outnumber them 5-1 with positive ideas. It's a way to become a better coach to yourself. You may find you play better, learn more and have more fun. And tomorrow is another day.
Author: Eric Best, author of Into My Father's Wake
Eric Best is an author, speaker, and strategy consultant to individuals and corporations. Educated at Hamilton College, Harvard and Stanford Universities, his background as a journalist (Lowell Sun, USA Today, San Francisco Examiner), futurist (Global Business Network, Morgan Stanley), and solo ocean sailor (SF-Hawaii and back, '89 and '93) inform his insights. The father of three, he lives and maintains offices in Brooklyn, NY, where he currently consults for a global financial firm and is working on two new books. © 2011 Eric Best