How we reinforce and recognize player behaviors.
Credit to Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion and Practice Perfect, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with in his consulting role with U.S. Soccer Coaching Education staff. Doug distinguishes between praise and acknowledgment in a way that translates to the soccer field for coaches of all ages and levels.
Praise should be reserved for when expectations are exceeded because if dished out too cheaply praise loses its value. If coaches praise normal or average behavior then it becomes less powerful when recognizing truly exceptional actions.
Acknowledgment on the other hand, should be given freely when players meet expectations in order to reinforce those expectations.
Praise sounds like: “That through ball you played showed great vision and skill.”
Acknowledgment sounds like: “Thank you for being prepared and staying focused today.”
Thanks for reading (acknowledgment). It’d be excellent if you put this into practice to impact players (praise).