One of the foundational blocks of Arrow Martial Arts teaching philosophy is positive correction rather than criticism.  Our leadership students are taught to apply this principle to all aspects of life and I have made it a core component of my parenting.

In my martial arts training there came a time that I did not want my parents to come to my practices or competitions.  Why?  Because most of the ride home all I heard was all the things I did wrong.  Sure there was some praise but by and large it was negative.  I saw this as a child not only in how my father coached me but also in many of my teammates dads in other sports.  As parents we believe we are helping our children by correcting their mistakes but the reality is they way we often do it breaks them down and demotivates them.  Here are a few tips for working with your athlete:

  1. The 80/20 Rule:  We should aim to have 80% of our conversation positive and praising the things they did well.  The remaining 20% we would correct them.  Often this is flipped on its head and that leads to the feeling that they were mostly bad and maybe they are not good enough to participate.  Grow their confidence while making deposits into their trust account.  As they get older they will know you have their best interest in mind and will listen to your advice.  Then this ratio can start to change a bit as the correction will not affect them as much.
  2. It Would Be Better If:  Learn to use phrases like “it would be even better if” or “this will take you up another level”.  When you do correct tell them something they did well and then tell them it would be even better if they added something”  Think of it like creating a lego house.  If your child builds a house and leaves of the roof and you say to them “what is that it has no roof.  That is no good”  They will be upset and immediately look at their work as bad.  Instead we say “That is awesome! I love the colors you chose.  I think it would be even better with a roof.  What do you think?”  Now, they will excitedly say yes and start to build it looking at it as an improvement to something that is already good.
  3. Praise Sandwich:  Similar to our above hint it is important to praise then correct and then praise again.  This sounds something like this “Billy, great power on your kick.  Let’s make sure to keep you hands up also.  Let’s try it again.  There you go, much better!”
  4. Don’t Correct Everything:  Try to pick one or two things to focus in on.  When we try to correct to much it becomes overwhelming and the child ends up not improving anything.  At Arrow Martial Arts we have one attribute we are looking for during each exercise.  This gives the child a direct goal to focus on during training.
  5. Ninja Correction:  This is when you correct a mistake without ever telling your child they were making the mistake.  For us we have several ways of doing this.  One is praising another student that is doing something correctly.  Everyone else will try to emulate that.  Another way is to see the mistake and just come up with an exercise or drill that works on that area.

I hope these tips help you while working with your young athlete.

Published: June 22, 2021

Categories: Teaching Philosophy