This Simple Tactic Dramatically Improves Relationships With Players and Helps You Motivate Them

I'm assuming many of you are similar to me. You like coaching basketball and you love having a positive impact on kids.

Well, we know that the first step to having a positive impact on kids is connecting to the kids.

And if you can connect with kids, it's easier to motivate them to do things that will benefit them on the basketball court and in life.

In fact, this has worked so well for me that that former players have...

  • Asked me to be their reference for medical internships, coaching jobs, and other things.

  • Texted me a few years after I coached them about issues with their dad losing a job, a girlfriend breaking up with them, and even divorce with their parents.

And here is a super simple way to accomplish it.

Compliment them.

In fact, studies have shown that people who receive a compliment form favorable views of the person giving the compliment. And what's even crazier, this still happens even if they view the compliment as disingenuous.

So there are a few different ways to do this, but don't be disingenuous.

If I have to form an immediate connection and I don't know all of the kids, I use the first two methods. You might use this in a camp setting or coaching a youth basketball team.

1 - Compliment them on anything even if it's not basketball related.

You can simply compliment players on things like their shoes, hair, shirt, bag, socks, basketball, or whatever. Most people like to be complimented on this stuff.

Of course, you don't want to take this too far where somebody only gets their self esteem from their appearance. But you can use it at first to better connect.

It's better to place the majority of your praise on process-oriented things like attitude, effort, and listening.

2 - Compliment things they do well first before correcting.

When I'm watching kids work on skills at first, there are a million critiques running through my head. However, you need to fill the compliment jar first. That way, they actually hear your critique and are actually open to it.

For example, you might see a kid dribbling the ball with his eyes down and wiggling his body like a worm. However, he's doing a great job at pounding the ball into the floor.

When doing this, I prefer to use something called the compliment sandwich. I learned this technique from the legendary Morgan Wootten.

- You simply say the person's name and praise them for something they're doing well.

- Then you state the correction (critique).

- Then you finish with something they're doing well again.

So you could say, "Way to pound the ball, Jalen. Keep your eyes up. Good job and keep pounding that ball."

3 - Start complimenting early

If you're in a position where you know you're going to coach a group of kids in the future, start building that connection way beforehand.

I remember I had a coach by the name of Casey Ditch. He was a master of this. Every time I saw him, he was smiling and saying something nice to me.

"Whoa. Every time I see you, you grow a couple of inches."

"Man, have you been working on your jumper? Your shot is looking good."

"Hey, I heard you really worked hard at track practice. Great job."

"What is this I hear about you getting a B+ on your math test. Nice work!"

"Hey, where'd you get those kicks? I like those."

By the time, he was my freshman basketball coach, I was open to everything he said. I was locked in.

However, I have to be truthful. The first time he yelled at me during a game, I was a bit surprised. But since he had built the connection, my first thought was... "Whoa. I need to fix that."

If you're a teacher or coach, you can do this in the hallways at school. You can show up at practices before you coach them. You can do this at camps.

If you're a parent, you might do it casually when you see other kids around.

If you start filling that compliment jar right now, it pays dividends in the future.

What do you think? Let us know by leaving your comments, suggestions, and questions...


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Rick Farrell says:
5/31/2017 at 11:59:28 AM

I love this - My trick is that at every 1st practice of the week, I hand out recipe cards with thier name on one side and 3 things on the other....2 compliments ( what they are doing good in practice) and what they need to work on as the 3rd thing. The bottom is reserved for the "Quote of the week" which is a motivational quote of some kind (they all get the same one)
They actually look forward to getting the card

  1 person liked this. 1 reply  

Phillip says:
5/31/2017 at 11:39:54 PM

Fabulous idea and thanks for sharing Rick. I do a similar thing via Teamsnap after a game, but I like this idea as it is very player directed.


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