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The Positive Pocket Challenge! Take it!

If you’re a coach, then you most certainly are a competitive person. If you have kids in sports, again, good chance you thrive off a little win/lose in your everyday. Competition pushes us to higher levels and it’s used as a tactic in business, with employees, in schools and even marketing.

Do you have a fitbit? I had one, and at first I started competing with myself everyday, trying to get the highest number of steps. It was a mild competition and I didn’t lose sleep over my numbers. If I had a day with less activity I just made note and got up more the next day. But then I discovered this other tab on my fitbit app. The one where you can challenge other people….

That’s the day I started taking tons of tiny steps around my kitchen at 11 pm to outdo my sister. It’s when I tied my fitbit to my shoe to make sure my pedals counted as steps when I rode my bike. It’s when my co-trainer (Thank you Tucker!) started banging his wrist against the table at lunch so he could beat my steps during a level 1 CEP clinic…

Competition does something to us, and some of it is incredibly positive, but some of it is ugly, emotional, desperate and not exactly uplifting others.  Ever get caught up in the heat of a game and just yell something? And when I say ever I mean, have you ever NOT? Because it’s hard to stay in check when those competitive tiny little emotion trolls appear and amp us up, isn’t it?!

Here’s a few things to help with those competitive genes you were lucky to be blessed with – but don’t stop there. Have your parents and your coaches take THE POSITIVE POCKET CHALLENGE! Sometimes a little reality check can open a few eyes.

  1. Be intentional. Don’t just show up for a game as a coach or parent and get ready to win or be entertained, or maybe just be worried about the performance of the athletes. Pick your focus – is it on development, growing confidence, using last week’s fundamentals more in a game setting, praising, noticing what they are doing best?  Be intentional about your coaching or cheering at every game. Take a couple minutes before you get in the car and have a plan.

  2. Be Proactive. Think about situations that may come up, or that have come up in the past and think of ways to positively respond or even avoid (if its conflict with the other teams parents for example)  What kinds of things can be recognized that are positive, have a go to saying that replaces that negative one. Mine has always been, “I love Christmas” or some other holiday.  Yup it’s weird, but I really do love Christmas and it sounds a lot better than what I really want to say….

  3. Get some Perspective. Will Professional scouts be at the game, will this win define your grandiose career, will overcorrecting or yelling something shameful leave a lasting impact that you want on your conscience forever, will this referee affect any other part of my life when this game is over and she/he goes home to his family…..  Remember why you are there, breathe out the little things, focus on the life-long impactful opportunities instead and then choose to make those positive.

THE POSITIVE POCKET CHALLENGE (for coaches and parents)

This may be a test of character because none of us really want to listen to what we scream out at games. Even positive coaches and parents mutter some things under our breath or to other parents on occasion.  But in the interest of an honest assessment, AND in order to drive a much more positive competition between coaches and parents, here’s how it works!

  1. Place your phone near you (or in your pocket..hence the Positive Pocket challenge)

  2. Turn on your voice memo at the start of the game and hit RECORD

  3. Record the whole game, whether its yourself coaching, talking to players, or as a spectator.

  4. At the end of the game, when you get home – Listen to it. (UGH!) (Pretend you are your kids age while you hear it, that helps too)

Make a mark for every positive statement (this could be a compliment, or a correction that is phrased positively such as “You got a great ground ball out there, and next time if you work on body positioning you will improve your ability to keep possession! maybe two points if you praise someone on the other team)

Make a mark for every negative statement (“don’t put your head down” is a negatively phrased correction instead of saying “Keep your Head up” Insults, sarcasm, comparisons, questions “Why would you do that??” Accusations “We didn’t practice it that way!”)

Don’t mark down neutral statements like “bring me some water, or I lost my glasses again!..” unless you say it in a particularly negative or positive way 😀


You can use this for your own self discovery as an exercise your you can note your ratio and submit it into your teams or coaches GOOGLE DOC (or however you want to track it)

Let the players give out the gold stars to those with the highest positive weighted ratios if you want to get them involved. Or just do it so you can, even one time, hear how you sound to the kids.

Coaches can compete amongst each other for the best ratios (maybe that team gets a pizza party at the end from the winner) Make it fun, make it memorable, and most of all, make it drive change. No one loses when we focus on driving with positivity. Want to drive positivity in your league? Make it a team vs team challenge! All of the coaches and parents fighting it out for the highest positive ratio sounds a little more pleasant to me, but perhaps that’s because I just came off of a three day 102 degree tournament…  😀

Play on!

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