One of our mental coaches at IMG, Taylor Stutzman, recently presented a 1-hour session for our coaches on confidence. How do you create a confident team with the way you coach?

A big part of confidence comes from the type of feedback you give to your players. Feedback essentially comes in 3 kinds of messages – compliments, criticism, or instructions. Feedback can be positive, negative or simply instructional. It’s important to speak on purpose and speak with a purpose. So much of coaching becomes emotional reaction if we aren’t careful. Have you ever stopped to think about what the purpose was of the message you just tried to deliver?

Studies of John Wooden when he coached at UCLA took detailed notes of what type of feedback he gave to his players. They found that 6% of his feedback was criticism. Almost 7% of the feedback he gave was complimentary. And 75% of the feedback he gave was instructional (other feedback obviously didn’t fit into one of these 3 categories). So 3 out of every 4 comments he made to his players were instructional.

Have you ever thought about how you are talking to your players? Speak on purpose, with a purpose.

Positive feedback – “That’s a great shot.”

Negative feedback – “That’s a terrible shot.”

Instructional feedback – “We need to move the ball quicker to get great shots.”

So it’s worth thinking about how much of what you say to your team is actually instructional. That is the most valuable type of feedback to get results and to build confidence. Don’t necessarily tell them what you thought about what they just did, or show them how it made you feel.

Tell them what to do. It sounds very basic, yet you’d be surprised how little of coaching is actually telling them what to do.

Instructive feedback is essential to the growth of your team and building confidence.