Success Starts in the Mind: Ideas for Strengthening the Growth Mindset in Your Players

We hear so much about growth mindset…   How a growth mindset is the key to improvement and learning.  But what really is a “Growth Mindset”?  …and how do I really apply this to my team and practices?

First, let’s look at what a “growth mindset” actually is… particularly for a coach or teacher.  Here is a brief three-part description of the concept of growth mindset specifically for athletes, coaches and teachers:

  1. Belief in the Potential for Growth: It’s important to understand that abilities and skills can be developed through dedication, effort, and perseverance. The idea of, “Let’s see how good we can become.” Should be viewed as an exciting challenge. Believing that talent is not fixed but can be cultivated over time with the right mindset and approach is fundamental to having a growth mindset.
  2. Embrace Challenges and Learn from Setbacks: Help learners to view challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth rather than insurmountable obstacles. Approach difficulties with resilience, seeking to learn from failures and be willing to adapt learning and practice strategies accordingly.
  3. Commitment to Continuous Improvement: Be committed to ongoing learning and development. The processes of “getting better” are seen as important…and fun. Learners actively seek feedback, set goals, and engage in deliberate practice to refine their skills and reach their full potential. The successful learner understands that mastery is a journey, not a destination, and is dedicated to the process of improvement.

Now, how can we create a stronger growth mindset in an athlete or within the overall team culture?  Fostering a growth mindset requires intentional actions and attitudes from the coach or teacher. Here are ten specific things a coach can do to cultivate a strong growth mindset in the practice gym and throughout the team:

  1. Emphasize Effort Over Outcome: Encourage athletes to focus on the effort they put into their training rather than solely on winning or losing. Highlight the value of perseverance and hard work.
  2. Provide Constructive Feedback: Offer specific, actionable feedback that focuses on areas for improvement rather than solely on mistakes. Help athletes see feedback as a tool for growth rather than criticism. Catch the learner doing it right!
  3. Set Incremental Goals: I recently heard someone say that a “Goal was simply a dream with a deadline.”  Break down long-term goals into smaller, achievable milestones. Celebrate progress along the way to help athletes see the value of continuous improvement.
  4. Encourage Risk-Taking: Create a safe environment where athletes feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things. This must be consistently applied by the coach/teacher.  Emphasize that mistakes (failure) are a very important part of the learning process.  Mistakes accelerate the learning/improvement process.
  5. Promote Self-Reflection: Encourage athletes to honestly and accurately reflect on their performance and identify areas for growth on their own. Make sure that your athlete is not falling into the “perfection” trap.  Provide opportunities for self-assessment and goal setting.
  6. Model a Growth Mindset: As the coach or teacher, it is very important that you consistently demonstrate a growth mindset in your own approach to coaching and personal development. Share stories of your own challenges and successes.
  7. Celebrate Effort and Progress: Recognize and praise athletes for their hard work, improvement, and resilience, regardless of the outcome of a particular game or competition.
  8. Provide Opportunities for Skill Development: Offer a variety of drills, exercises, and training methods that challenge athletes to develop new skills and expand their abilities. Find out how each individual athlete learns best.  Teach/coach to the learner.  I like the phrase, “If they can’t learn the way I teach, then I must teach the way they learn.”
  9. Encourage Collaboration and Support: Foster a team culture where athletes support and encourage each other's growth and development. Emphasize the importance of teamwork and camaraderie. This is a great way to build a resilient team.
  10. Teach Resilience and Mental Toughness: Help athletes develop resilience in the face of setbacks and adversity. Provide mental strategies for maintaining focus, managing stress, and bouncing back from disappointment.

By incorporating these strategies into coaching practices, coaches can create an environment that nurtures a strong growth mindset among athletes, leading to greater motivation, resilience, and long-term success.

Huddle Up!

Let us know what you think! Share your experiences, stories or thoughts that guide your coaching on our new Paragon Coaching Resources Facebook page. “Like” or “Follow”. It’s always helpful for coaches to hear amazing stories. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Cell:   1-559-287-8389
Email: [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top