Coaching: Process Driven Coaching

Coaches, have you ever used the phrase, “Let’s give it 100% out there today!” Or have you ever said something like, “We just need 2 more goals and we’ll make it to the championship!”

Well, I have. Or at least something along those lines. It isn’t that these coaching tactics are inherently wrong, it’s just that they are either ambiguous or results driven. It wasn’t until I started learning more about process driven coaching that I changed my mentality and actions.

Process driven coaching is exactly what it sounds like. It is based on the concept that most of a team or an individual’s success rests on the process rather than the outcome.

For example, if a player is only focused on scoring a goal and the opposing team’s goalie is having a REALLY good day, your player is likely to get frustrated and become unable to stay focused. However, if you tell your player and your team to focus on getting 30 shots in a game, it gives them a specific process driven goal that will likely lead to the positive outcome of more goals.

Three amazing things about focusing on the process are:

  1. Process driven goals can be very specific. Unlike the phrase, “Give 100%,” saying something like “Take 30 shots” or “Get the puck out in under 15 seconds each time we are in the defensive zone” is very specific and gives players something tangible to try to achieve each game. While yes, saying “Score 3 goals today” is specific, it effectively ignores all of the tangibles that go into the process of getting there.
  2. It eliminates the highs and lows of focusing on the outcome. If your player is only focused on the scoreboard, each goal they score is going to inflate their confidence and each goal against will derail their confidence. Neither are productive. But when a player focuses primarily on the process, they can track that improvement without the pressure of winning or losing a game. The teams that are often the most successful are the ones where players are more concerned with their habits, AKA the process, than the final outcome.
  3. It empowers you to actually COACH! When you obsess over outcomes as a coach, you are essentially telling your players that it’s all on them. You’re signaling that they have the tools to generate the outcome so really, why do they need you? When you focus on the process, you get to actually coach because that’s where their learning and their training from you really shines and you’ll be able to direct them as they go. For example, if you only coach and correct your players when they almost get a goal, you’re limiting your potential. If instead you coached them each time they almost got a shot off, it opens up way more opportunity for you to help them get that shot next time which may or may not result in a goal.

The last point I want to make is that the key to all of this is your ability to coach your players in practice and in games in a way that rewards the process over the outcome or over skill/ talent. Lift your players up when they achieve small wins based in effort rather than only complimenting the kids who have incredible talent and can produce points. This will enable you to maximize each player’s commitment and ultimately drive your team’s success.

Success is in the process, my friends. Enjoy!

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