No one likes getting things wrong – especially in front of others.
But if you spread the message that mistakes are accidents, that they’re something to learn from and not something to fear, you can change your players’ perceptions. Just like you’re not going to have all the answers right away, acknowledging if you’ve made a mistake can be a powerful statement.
For instance, if you're not getting the returns you want from a session, holding your hands up and making a change sends a clear message. You've tried something and it hasn't gone how you want, but you're learning and adapting – just like your team need to.
To become skilful, players must be able to explore and discover the possibilities in the game. Mistakes are inevitable – such as losing the ball under pressure because they haven’t shielded it. But what players learn from those mistakes will give them the tools they need to play the game.
Be a role model
To create the right environment, you also have to be a good role model for your players. This means being consistent, kind, patient, fair, honest and non-judgmental.
This approach might be harder than you imagine, but these qualities form the basis of any secure and trusting relationship.
A harsh and judgemental environment won't encourage players to try new things or be creative. If you want your team to explore and develop, you need to be positive, supportive and allow for mistakes. When you're patient in your approach, give your players time and encourage them to practise, you open up the possibility of them becoming skilful.
The better your environment is, the more chance you have of developing a love of the game. This means that players are more likely to come back, week after week. Which, in turn, creates greater opportunity to develop skilful play.