Providing meaningful feedback on a regular basis is crucial for the development of every young player and is a key to team success. Unfortunately, player evaluations are viewed by coaches as a time-consuming administrative burden and too often depend on impersonal forms with numerical ratings.
Meaningful feedback does take a bit more effort, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are 3 tips for providing constructive and actionable feedback to motivate your players and help them reach their full potential on the court:
Be Positive and Specific – Begin by focusing on the player’s strengths. It’s advised in any relationship to “fill the emotional tank” by keeping a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative comments. It’s more effective to lead with the positive areas of strength, rather than emphasizing negative qualities and leaving the player feeling discouraged. It’s also important that your feedback be specific. For example, instead of saying “strong hitter,” say, “can hit accurately even with challenging passes.”
Establish Player Goals – Engage players by asking them to share their goals with you. One way to do this is by asking who their favorite player is and how they would like to emulate that player. Do they want to be a more creative playmaker? Do they want to improve their serve? Do they aim to play in college? Meet the player where they are and use their answers to guide the conversation. Better yet, ask players to put their goals in writing.
Focus on Personal Progress and Make It Actionable – Focus on how the player can make incremental improvements in order to reach their personal goals. Try to minimize comparisons to other players. While rating and ranking players is necessary to create teams, communicating these scores with players can have a detrimental effect on their psyche. A more motivating way to share feedback is to suggest three areas of strength and three areas for improvement. Conclude by developing an action plan with specific “to do’s” that the player can use to make tangible progress.