The Power Of Coaches’ Expectations

More evidence of the power of expectations—in this case, the expectations of athletic coaches. From the website PsychCentral:

“In a new study, Michigan State University researchers found that an approach by college coaches to emphasize their players’ academic abilities appear to provide the best defense against the effects of ‘dumb jock’ stereotypes.

Investigators surveyed more than 300 student-athletes representing men’s and women’s teams from small and large universities and a range of sports, from basketball and football to cross-country and rowing.

They found the more strongly student-athletes identified themselves as athletes, the less confident they were with their academic skills, and the more keenly they felt that others expected them to do poorly in school. Players in high-profile sports were even more likely to feel they were weak students.

But student-athletes were significantly more likely to be confident in the classroom if they believed their coaches expected high academic performance, not just good enough grades to be eligible for sports.

‘Coaches spend a lot of time with their players, and they can play such an important role to build academic confidence in student-athletes,’ said lead author and sports psychologist Dr. Deborah Feltz.” (Read more here.)

It’s amazing how much people will live up (or down) to the expectations held by important figures in their lives. We often don’t know what we’re capable of until an inspiring coach or teacher holds us to a high standard and tells us we can reach it.

One Response to “The Power Of Coaches’ Expectations”

  1. Irv Sigler says:

    I would add that the more a coach values relationships and coaching the “whole person” the greater the impact on the athlete. Many athletes (and coaches) struggle with defining themselves by their performance. The more we can teach our athletes to separate their personhood from their athletic performances, the more secure they will become. Thus the greater emphasis on their value as a member of the community.

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