The Correct Mindset To Learn

Written By Mike Antrobus, FA Skills Coach and reproduced from TheFA.Com

When coaching youth players, there can be the risk of placing too much emphasis on teaching them technical skills, with other aspects such as identifying and developing players ending up neglected.

The Football Association have undertaken extensive research into coaching in a holistic manner, leading to the creation of The Four Corner Model, which aims to develop players’ technical/tactical, physical, psychological and social skills.

Within this blog I will be focusing on the Psychological corner; specifically the mind-set of our players. Some of you may have read research undertaken by Carol Dweck, who has highlighted two types of mind-sets: the ‘fixed’ and the ‘growth’.

She describes a ‘fixed’ mind-set as one in which people believe their skills cannot be improved and often look to prove themselves in a success or fail environment. While a ‘growth’ mind-set she defines as when an individual believes they have the ability to improve and develop their skills through hard work and commitment.

Now consider which one you would give your players if possible – I am sure we would all pick a ‘growth’ mind-set. Then ask the question: How do we create players with a ‘growth’ mind-set?

The important thing to note is that it is possible to develop ‘growth’ mind-sets within players. As coaches, we need to provide players with opportunities to try things and self-reflect before trying again. This trial and error approach will ultimately improve a player’s skills and steer them towards a ‘growth’ mind-set.

It is key that our players are encouraged to learn through their own mistakes, so we must endeavour to pose questions and challenges to encourage them to do so.

Consider setting challenges for your players to solve and encourage players to find ways of achieving success.

When setting challenges, it is important to think about the wording you use. A ‘can you’ question gives them an opportunity to fail and lean towards a fixed mind-set, whereas a ‘try to’ question encourages them to find ways of achieving a solution.

When they have done well provide positive feedback and praise their effort. Over time you will begin to see players develop a ‘growth’ mind-set, begin to ask more questions and attempt new and different skills.

If we were to provide negative feedback to each mistake made by a player there is a greater chance of them developing a ‘fixed’ mind-set and begin choosing the easier options to make them look successful. They will look to prove themselves against goals which they set themselves and, if they are unsuccessful, become despondent and give up.

In summary, try to create environments that are not focused on success and fail, and instead introduce challenges that give them an opportunity to repeat the same skill in a similar situation.

As they progress, see if they alter their technique or decision. If they do then they are creating a ‘growth’ mind-set, if not then pose them a question or a ‘try to’ challenge.

Let me know your comments and how you get on via twitter @mikeantrobus

Mike Antrobus is an FA Tesco Skills coach in Dorset.

As a young player, Mike played for Crewe Alexandra’s Academy side, before turning to coaching – first with a BTEC in Sports Development and Fitness, and then completing his BSc in Sports Coaching.

After graduating, Michael moved to America where he oversaw the development of children aged 5 to 17 for MLS franchise Red Bull New York. Michael returned to England to join The FA Tesco Skills Programme in 2009.

Michael is a Level 3 qualified coach, and has also completed the FA Youth Award modules 1 and 2. As part of the Dorset FA Tesco Skills team, he works with schools and children in Poole.

This article appears on The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club website. For information about accessing the site and becoming a Licensed Coach please visit: The FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Website


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