I was listening to Chris Oliver’s podcast recently and they were discussing practice enthusiasm. The guest mentioned that Jeff Van Gundy said every time he goes to a college practice, there is a sense of high energy. Van Gundy says that this enthusiasm is somewhat misleading. There are so many coaches, grad assistants, and other program specialists in practice that create this energy. If you watch the players closely though, they often get away with not displaying any energy.
Oliver and the guest went on to discuss the benefits of the coach letting the players take more ownership of their energy, their learning, and their improvements. I think there is a time and place for all of this, but there is also a counter-argument.
What the Research Shows on Positive Emotion
Carmine Gallo studied the greatest Ted Talks of all-time. In his book Talk Like Ted he studied numerous factors. He analyzed the amount of views that videos received, the length of standing ovations, the number of words per minute speakers used, PowerPoint slides (or lack thereof) and a litany of other factors. One of the most important factors with successful talks was enthusiasm. Here is one quote I took away.
“Science shows that passion is contagious, literally. You cannot inspire others unless you are inspired yourself. You stand a much greater chance of persuading and inspiring your listeners if you express an enthusiastic, passionate, and meaningful connection to your topic.”
Anytime I hear the term research or science, I stop and listen. Sometimes as coaches we can let the momentum of the moment rule our emotions. Based on what Gallo’s research, being overly excited for some practices is in a coach’s best interest.
There are players that fall into slumps and fall into the dreaded doghouse. All players perceive the negative feedback at a higher ratio than they are actually receiving it. If you want them to remember positive feedback, be over the top in how you present it.