Don’t Lose Your Confidence If You Slip

Do you ever go on a long trip and bump into someone you know from home? I felt that way reading Robert Green’s howler: forget it, displace it – just don’t make another one in the Manchester Guardian.

be grateful for a pleasant trip

Pick yourself up, brush yourself off . . .

I have been on a 48-hour bender of gloating ever since the USA sealed their 1 – 1 draw against England, and the more the English press moans and skewers its goalkeeper, I’ve felt better and better. Their pain was my joy. Until I read this article and it brought the tenets of the PCA back to me.

It expanded on Robert Green’s likely mental state and how he and his coach can put his confidence back together after his Buckneresque blunder on the world stage. The author quotes Damian Hughes, a sports psychologist, saying,

“Of course they have to acknowledge the mistake. But also focus on what he did well. [Jose] Mourinho used to call it the emotional bank account. You have to put five deposits in before you make a withdrawal, and give some negative feedback.”

“So I imagine Capello will be doing something similiar, concentrating on five things Rob did do well in the game, so he is still valued as an individual rather than being mercilessly crucified for one mistake he did make.”

That is classic PCA, called “filling the Emotional Tank.” Five instances of positive feedback or other filling behaviors for every tank-draining coaching criticism. It can be as simple as asking for feedback, acting on suggestions, or a high-five. Research shows it works this same way in the classroom and with married couples. It works with kids, college athletes and pros. Focusing on the positive aspects of performance builds the likelihood of more positive performance. This is something every coach must consider before criticizing an error. While it might make you feel better to criticize or belittle your player, it will make your player better if you don’t. Which would you rather?

When my daughter Ariel was very small, I would play her this song and try to sear the concept of resilience into her toddler brain. I don’t know if it had any effect on her but she did go on to make herself into an excellent athlete, playing on a Berkeley High basketball team that won the Nor-Cal D1 championships twice.

Maybe Fabio Capello can cue it up for Robert Green.

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3 Responses to Don’t Lose Your Confidence If You Slip

  1. Margo says:

    Green has some amazing saves following the blunder — he’s a keeper — by definition he’s got to be resilient (see Jim’s last blog entry). You don’t get to the level Green is by harping on mistakes, and from a coaching perspective — I doubt there is much a coach needs to say about the goal — does anyone really believe Green doesn’t know exactly what he did wrong there? It’s the thousand things one does right during a game that players forget; most players remember every movement of every (big) mistake they ever made. My money says that Green has a spectacular rest of tournament.

  2. Anne B says:

    To be honest … their pain is still my joy, a little. 🙂

    But you are right, and Ariel is such a treasure. Your masterpiece (one of them).

    With your permission, I will send this blog post to my favorite snowboarder, who is recovering nicely from a head injury last December. He missed the Olympics, but he’s doing better every day since.

    Not unlike your writing …

  3. Pingback: Deuce | Jim's a keeper

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