It might be the buzzword of recent times, but the term ‘growth mindset’ very much deserves its time in the spotlight.
For those unfamiliar with it, growth mindset has been referred to as viewing intelligence as fluid, rather than inherent. It’s a view widely shared in sports psychology with the belief that we all have the power to better ourselves.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.Celebrated author on the mindset approach, Carol Dweck
These views are consistent in coaching of any kind. Belief that we can change our destiny through hard work and resilience, is promoted.
In growth mindset coaching there’s an element of teaching and motivation that is required. Sports coach qualifications begin to equip you. When practiced, it can unleash your athlete’s potential and empower them to achieve whatever they set their sights on.
So – let’s get started – here are some of the fundamentals to growth mindset coaching:
It starts with belief
Think back to the many famous speeches you’ve heard, from the Oscars to the Sport Personality of the Year Awards. There’s a consistent theme from the winners – gratitude. Quite often in the form of thanking those that believed in them from the start; agents, managers, coaches and family.
Especially in the formative years, it sometimes takes someone to believe in your capabilities and see your potential. This helps to transform your own self-belief.
As a growth mindset coach, it’s imperative to see the potential in every athlete in your team. Tell your players the value they personally bring, acknowledge the efforts and sacrifices they make, and demonstrate ways in which you place great confidence in them.
A growth mindset promotes the view that we can learn from our mistakes, and that we have the ability to improve our abilities. It also encourages winning and losing in a graceful way, since both are essential to our development.
In the role of sports coach, this means building resilience by helping athletes learn from their mistakes. Praise is an important part of this – since we should be rewarding and acknowledging athletes for their efforts and not just the outcomes.
Help athletes learn from feedback, by setting goals to overcome challenges they have faced. Crucially, it’s also about teaching them to never give up. Setbacks are part of the journey and a difficult, but important, lesson to learn from. In the growth mindset approach, we all have the ability to improve our skills which is part of the natural process.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that some athletes may not be familiar with losing or failing and you may need to put coping strategies in place to help build their confidence and resilience.
Part of development and evolving is about accepting change. As a mentor and growth mindset coach there’s a requirement to grow and develop fledging talent in this area.
When we embrace change and be open to new possibilities, we create a positive environment to develop. It also allows those involved to learn from previous mistakes and find different ways of approaching situations – essential in personal development and growth.
The best way to teach this is to show how you personally embrace change. Take your athletes on the journey with you!
Hard work pays off
We’ve heard it time and again, but as the old adage goes “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
In personal training, we learn that tenacity is a vital strength in order to succeed. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell speaks about the need to clock up 10,000 hours of experience in order to become an expert. Simply put – there are no shortcuts to the top. In practice, the actual number of hours varies from individual to individual and task to task. The key message is aim for consistency in training over a prolonged period.
As the nature-nurture debate continues, growth mindset challenges the view that we are simply born with intelligence, and suggests that we can improve our skill set if we act. This can be achieved through years of dedication and hard work, with many knock backs on the way. Hence, one of the key areas of growth mindset coaching is to teach your athletes that their hard work will develop and improve their skills.
In a philosophy that promotes self-belief, putting in the hours, and overcoming feats; empowerment is a vital tool.
On one hand, the sports coach can empower athletes to be their best through motivational tools. This could include positive reinforcements, how we show confidence in their abilities, putting them forward for competitions or awards, and so forth.
On the other, it’s about how we inspire athletes to achieve their greatest potential and teaching them that they are capable of improvement. Imagery techniques may help challenge negative thinking and reinforce positive messages.
There might be some great books you can recommend, you might encourage athletes to take up mindfulness, or it could be as simple as getting them to follow inspiring leaders on social media, to get into the positive mindset.
In growth mindset coaching, giving praise recommends focusing on effort and results, rather than intelligence and ability.
Various studies have shown better outcomes when students were acknowledged for going through a process and for their effort (hard work), rather than their intellect and ability.
No doubt, praise is a good thing, but in order to develop and inspire students and to stretch their ability, this needs to be framed the right way.
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