Originally Published in: Game Ready - 52 Takeaways for Winning
There is no question that a team is made up of individuals all trying to accomplish a common goal. It stands to reason that a player will perform better, accomplish more and have a better chance of success if he feels good about himself and what he is doing. Helping your player achieve a level of confidence through skill improvement is a critical objective for every coach.
If you think about it, we as coaches all face the same dilemma. Do you tell them what they need to hear or do you tell them what they want to hear? Truth is you must tell them what they need to hear as honestly and directly as possible. To do anything less is simply to falsely inflate a player's ego, which does nothing to build skill-based confidence. Giving out false self-esteem doesn't do anyone any favors, except your opponent. A world where everyone gets a participation trophy, certificate or ribbon does not exist in the real world of competition. Telling a player up front when he needs to make corrections prevents problems down the road for the entire team. Blunt assessment and honest critique matters most. What is at stake here, quite frankly, is the success or failure of the team.
Don't get me wrong, I believe a player's self-esteem is important, but it must be developed legitimately. Coaches determine where the opportunity exists within each player. The best way to do that is through an honest individual player assessment. Every coach has his or her own style, which is as it should be. If that style is 'firm but fair,' then demonstrate that every time. If that style is 'relaxed but always in control,' then consistently deliver that style. But never confuse players by sugarcoating what needs to be fixed, no matter what kind of coaching style you use.
The job of building true self-esteem in an individual player is predicated on a coach taking time to show that player how to improve and holding him accountable for improving. When you get that you get a better, more confident player and, most importantly, a more confident individual. The more of those you get, the better your team gets. I call that Team Esteem.
There is nothing more satisfying than to coach a team that is confident, not cocky, but confident. It stands to reason these players will have a chance to dominate every time they compete if they follow the game plan and feed off the Team Esteem that has been created.
These statements sum up the job ahead when it comes to building Team Esteem.
It's really very simple. Giving out false self-esteem doesn't do anyone any favors, except your opponent.