Coach Education | How to develop a growth mindset in your athletes

Posted on August 12, 2020 by

Coaches play an important part in helping their athletes develop a growth mindset.

In our previous performance psychology article for High Performance at Home we focused on understanding what a growth mindset is.

Here are some strategies that you could implement to help develop your athletes’ growth mindset in practice and competition.

  1. Educate yourself and your athletes about the difference between a growth and fixed mindset. Highlight the benefits of adopting a growth mindset in sport.
  2. Remind athletes to check in on their mindset and encourage them to switch to a growth mindset perspective if they identify that they have a fixed mindset approach. Praise the implementation of a growth mindset.
  3. Add “Yet” to your vocabulary. Remind athletes that whilst they may not have it yet, they will get there with effort, time and practice.
  4. Share real life examples. Share with athletes’ real-life examples of other athlete’s growth over the years. For example, Michael Jordan’s journey from high school basketball to the one of the best players in the world.
  5. Encourage them to take on a weekly challenge. Get them to develop an action plan of how they are to successfully complete the challenge. We want to build their confidence at tackling challenging situations so let’s get them to practice weekly.
  6. Reframe mistakes and failures by viewing them as learning experiences. Educate athletes about how important failure and mistakes are in the growing process. Remind them that they are a necessity so that we can learn, grow, and reach our potential.
  7. Provide learning and growth based feedback. Provide praise and feedback focused on learning and growing rather than outcomes. When providing feedback focus on the effort your athletes have put in and the growth they have achieved. Avoid making comparisons across your athletes as it is more beneficial for your athletes to compare their last performance with the current one. Get them to focus on surpassing their personal best, rather than just winning.
  8. Pay attention to what you criticise. If you want to emphasise a growth mindset, criticise the lack of effort and discipline of the athlete, not their ability.
  9. Develop process orientated athletes. Encourage them to focus on their action plan and the effort they’re putting in to achieve an outcome. This will help to keep athletes focused and in the moment.
  10. Encourage self-reflection in athletes as reflection is essential for growth. Encourage your athletes to debrief after each training or game. What worked? What didn’t? And get them to develop an action plan to make this better.

When implementing these strategies just focus on 2-3 of the strategies listed above at a time.

Part three of this performance psychology series on growth mindset will focus on the strategies that your athletes can implement to help build their growth mindsets.


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