Yesterday I was having a conversation with one of the coaches that I will be working with for this upcoming season about what the season will look like when it begins.

We have all the pieces we need to make [success] happen.” the coach said.

Yeah, we just gotta figure out how it’s going to happen.” I replied

We already have the pieces!

There was a silence between us as he was changing out of his business shoes into his sneakers, then he stood and said,

I hear you. You can have all the pieces of a watch but it doesn’t make it a watch until it is put together.

I thought that the insight was worth diving into a little for today’s blog.

There is a dramatic difference however, between the gears in a watch and an actual athletic person – psychological complexities. Although the inner set-up of a watch is complex, the actual gears will always act a certain way…consistently turning. The parallel between the gears and an athlete is that both need to be shaped into the part that is needed.

As a captain or a coach, your team may have some talent but some of their habits have to be changed to embrace new habits that will work with the other team pieces and program you already have. How can you help in the shaping process?

Here is one tip that you can use to help form new habits in your team.

Reinforcement shaping
This helps others identify the habits that you want to see as the leader. This is done through various means(i.e. praise, awards, increased influence etc.). This particular tool focuses on the learning and improvement of athletes performance not the outcome.

(ex. in baseball if a player hits a shot down the third baseline and the third baseman makes an incredible dive and threw the hitter out, and then later that same hitter is at bat again and check swings mistakenly getting contact and bloops a ball over the second baseman’s glove and got on base, your happy for the base hit but you praise the shot down the third base line.)

You as the leader should continually focus on the learning improvements of the player. This sharpens the players focus on the thing that matters for consistency and not fluke. You are gearing them up! This tip goes for social skills as well as physical skills. You can also reinforce social skills like self-control, communication and cooperativeness.

To make this work successfully in your program, ask yourself these two questions:

What kind of reinforcements do you have in place within your program?

What behaviors/habits do you want to see growth in? (list them)

GOOD LUCK with implementing this technique successfully and naturally!

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