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What’s the first trait that we can build in our warrior brains athletes? It’s obviously the W. Work rate. Work rate occurs in the cerebellum of the brain, that’s where coordination is. So, if we want to speak to our athletes and we want to create work rate, we’ve got to start speaking in ways that activate the cerebellum. To do that we need to start talking about encouragement language. We want to encourage effort rather than praise skill in our children. So, in the beginning as a coach I would always say things like “good job”, the problem is I wasn’t telling my kids exactly what they did good at, and so kids were like “oh I did a good job. What did I do?” So, it’s way too vague so the kids had no way to replicate…or I praised their skill “wow you’re so fast.” Well to a child being fast is something that child can’t control, they just think they’re born that way so they don’t know how to work to be better at it or even if they sometimes lose a race (just like Carol Dweck talks about in her growth mind-set and fixed mind-set) the child loses a race they think ‘oh no I’m no longer fast, coach lied to me’ or ‘I’ve lost that inherent skill’.
So, rather than praising skill in our children we have to think about how we praise the effort. I stopped “saying good job” or actually I still say “good job” but I attach it to something the child can control. Instead of saying unspecific praise like “good job”, I might say something like “Oh Suzy , you did such a good job of dribbling through those cones” or “Oh Michael, I loved how you kept your head down and you locked your ankle when you took that shot.” Now Michael and Suzy know what it is they can work on to continue to improve, there’s a growth system there. Or we praise that work ethic. We’re very specific and we make sure that the athletes who work hard, whether they’re failing or succeeding, understand the value of that work ethic