Growth Mindset Coaching

When I coach lacrosse, I love working with athletes who are coachable.  These athletes are receptive to feedback and use that feedback to improve.  Instead of getting caught up in focusing only on how great they currently are and seeing feedback as a threat, they view feedback as a useful tool to facilitate continued growth.  Coachable athletes have a growth mindset.  They believe their talents can be developed through hard work and techniques that incorporate input from coaches and peers.  They are better at handling criticism and setbacks because they consider everything to be a part of the learning process.  Athletes with a fixed mindset believe their talents are innate gifts, and are therefore vulnerable to mistakes, setbacks and criticism.

As a coach, there are several things that you can do to foster a growth mindset among your athletes, and when an entire team has a growth mindset, athletes often feel more empowered, collaborative and committed.  Here are a few tips to create a growth mindset culture on your team:


o   Talk about ways that you have improved and the work that it took

o   Talk about how you would like to continue to grow

o   Ask for feedback from your players- how can I help you learn and grow?

Provide Solution Focused Feedback

o   You are amazing at _____ and you can improve at _____, let’s talk about how

o   Offer specific ways to improve a particular skill

Substitution Patterns

o   Questions to ask yourself: When do you make substitutions? When an athlete makes a mistake are they taken out immediately? What kind of conversation happens when they’re taken out? Are you especially tough on some players (one mistake and they’re out)?

o   Tips for substituting after a mistake: As much as possible give them an opportunity to recover; Have a conversation that praises what they did well, effort, appropriate risks, and recovery from mistakes; Talk about it as something that can be improved upon

Foster Positive Self-Talk

o   Encourage positive thinking by asking athletes what’s going well

o   Praise athletes for encouraging their teammates