Our Soccer coaches are constantly reading the latest journals and papers in order to ensure our training reflects the latest thinking. One such article was particularly interesting and we thought we would share this with our parents – the importance of hard work and effort:- Reflections from a coach based in the UK

Some of the players at my club are facing their final few weeks of revision before the exam season starts and their parents are looking for words to help motivate them. It is mirrored in many ways by the words you and I have to use during the course of a season to motivate our players. But the way children learn both in sport and academia is not through praising talent but through praising effort.

Dozens of studies have found that the top performers – whether in mathematics, football, or music – learn no quicker than those who reach lower levels of attainment. In essence, childrens’ talent improves at practically identical rates. Putting it simply, if your players practise more they will become strong achievers – talent alone is not enough for them to develop into good footballers. I won’t deny that some children come to the game and are naturally better than others but if they don’t put in the effort, the others soon catch them up.

That means phrases such as these are out:
“You did that exercise really quickly, you’re such a good player”
“Wow what a clever move, you must be the next Messi!” 
“Brilliant – you scored that goal without even trying!”

And phrases like these are in:
“You worked really hard at that exercise - keep it up”
“That was a great bit of skill, your practise is really paying off”
Great goal, you must be working really hard in training” 

And if you don’t believe me listen to this: A leading psychologist has recently conducted an experiment based around the praise that her students received. All 400 subjects tested were given a simple puzzle. Half were praised for intelligence – “wow you must be really smart”. And half for the effort they put in – “wow you must be hardworking”. They were then given a choice of whether to take a hard or easy test. 75% of the students praised for intelligence chose the easy test because they were scared of losing the smart label, but only 10% of the students praised for effort chose the easy test; the other 90% chose the tough test to prove how hardworking they were.

They then took a second test of the same difficulty and the group praised for intelligence showed a 20% drop in performance compared with a 30% increase for the hardworking group. Failure had spurred them on. Five words can have that profound an effect on the performance of children. If you praise your players for their hard work you will get more out of them than if you praise them for their talent.

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