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Life Skills

Growth Mindset Coaching

Stanford psychologist, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is widely regarded as one of the world's leading researchers in the fields of personality and developmental psychology. She is world renown for her work in the areas of achievement and success. Her research has shown that how one thinks about how abilities and talents form can have powerful ramifications on motivation, grades and achievement. Players that have a growth mindset understand that talent is developed through lots of hard work and effort. They love the challenge of learning new skills and see mistakes, not as failures, but as learning opportunities.

The opposite of this growth mindset is what Dweck refers to as a fixed mindset. Young people that have a fixed mindset view talent as something they have. They don’t fully understand that they have learned skills through lots of effort and practice, so they are more concerned with protecting their image of being good. They may even avoid practice and the process of struggling while learning new skills because that would be a sign of weakness. Failure for a player with a fixed mindset is problematic because it says something about them; primarily that they must not be as good as they thought they were (Dweck, 2006).

As a coach, how you talk to players can have a profound effect on how they view themselves and on learning new skills. Try to avoid making statements about players being really good, or having lots of natural talent. Instead, focus on recognizing the effort and hard work they put into learning new skills and preparing for matches. If a player has a set back or is not improving as fast as they would like, you can ask them about the techniques and strategies they are using…is there a better strategy to employ? Often they just need to be patient and continue to put in a lot of effort and concentration to learn and master new skills.

“Yet” is a great word to add to any statement because it insinuates that they are still in the process of learning. Often players will say, "I can't do that" to which you can correct them by adding "yet".

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