Those workers want to know how much you care, before they care how much you know. – Manufacturer in Iowa

Leader Expectancy

I had a player a few years ago that told me that she had studied about me in her organizational behaviour class one day. I asked her to explain. She said that the professor talked about the Pygmalion Effect in class and that she could see that was how I coached her. Actually I was pleased to hear that she thought of me in that manner as a coach. That is exactly how I try to coach. Pygmalion was a figure from Greek mythology. He was King of Cyprus and fell in love with a female statue that he had carved and which Aphrodite brought to life. This concept refers to the self-fulfilling prophecy that can occur from our expectations and beliefs about others’ abilities and characteristics.
Researchers have studied teacher expectancy for many years and they have shown that a teacher usually gets what they expect from a student or player or worker. I always set high standards for players and push them to work toward achieving these standards. I believe in them and try to encourage them to work harder than any competitor they might encounter. I do not want any of my teams to lose because another team out works them!
In 1968 Rosenthal and Jacobson published a research study on “Pygmalion in the Classroom” which showed that teachers’ expectations in the classroom were self-fulfilling prophecies because the expectations of the teacher were fulfilled by the students. Over the past 35 years researchers have studied this phenomenon and they have found that coaches’ expectations can affect their players performance in a positive and negative way.

How the Pygmalion Effect or coach expectancy works:

1. The coach has an expectation of an player
2. The coach encourages the player to perform to the coach’s expectation of them
3. The coach’s behaviour toward the player affects the player’s behaviour and performance
4. The player’s performance reflects the coach’s expectations

Steps to use for positive coach expectancy

1. Base your expectations of the player on their performance and judge them on their performance and how it affects the team.
2. Be ready to alter your expectations of the player especially if you judged them earlier to be of low ability
3. Design practices so that all players have an opportunity to improve their skill.
4. Watch players at practice to see if they are working on the skills. You can use an assistant coach or parent to monitor this for you.
5. Give the players specific corrective feedback when they make an error. Tell them what you want them to do in a tone of voice that says you believe they can do it. State it in the positive!
6. Watch your own body language to make sure you are showing the players that you believe in them. You can use an assistant or a parent to give you this kind of feedback.
7. Attribute errors by players to lack of effort, lack of practice or repetition of the skill. This will help to encourage the players to have a positive attitude and work toward improving their skill. Do not attribute poor performance to lack of ability. That is a fast way for a player to lose interest in the sport.
8. “Whether you think you will fail or succeed, you’re right.” - Henry Ford. Use Henry’s quote to encourage motivation for players to reach their potential.
9. Tell them success stories of people who failed many times over many years before finding success such as:

Abe Lincoln was elected President in 1860. What many people do not know is that between 1830-1860 he failed in business twice, had a nervous breakdown after his sweetheart died, was defeated for government offices 8 times including being defeated when he ran for vice president.

Thomas Edison finally invented the light bulb after 10000 attempts.

John Wooden coached the UCLA basketball team for 16 years before he won an NCAA title and then he won 10 of them, 6 in a row!

You may have stories closer to home that you can use. There may be successful stories of former players.

Shaping Behaviour

B.F. Skinner is the founder of behaviourism. According to behaviourism, whatever is rewarded is repeated. Coaches can use the following approach.
1. Identify the behaviours that you want to be repeated. For example, hustling back on defence may be a goal for the team.
2. Once you identify the behaviour you want practice the behaviour often, encourage work toward achieving the goal and reward the player when they complete the goal. When the player hustles back on defence after making an error on offence reinforce the player immediately for their effort to hustle back.
3. Give specific instructions of the desired behaviour and demonstrate how it should be performed. If you are not comfortable demonstrating the skill use players who do the skill well to demonstrate. A picture is worth 1000 words.
4. Give immediate, specific feedback. When a player hustles back on defence stop the play and point out the desired behaviour as being well done. Show some pleasure in your actions or voice when you point it out.
5. If the behaviour is poor then give the appropriate feedback to correct the behaviour and encourage the player to make the correction. Players do make mistakes so make the corrections. We learn from our mistakes when we work to make the correction.
6. In the media and publicly praise the players for behaviour you want to see when they accomplish it. If the team wins because they hustled back on defence then say it.
7. Use school or club bulletin boards to praise the players for good work. Post newspaper clippings, photos, team standings, etc..

Remember: what is rewarded is repeated!

Tips for the Media

1. Talk in terms of “we “ and not “I” to the media.
2. Give public credit to the team for the wins.
3. Take responsibility for the losses. Do not blame the players. Give credit to the opponent if it is deserved.
4. When the team wins describe the things they did to accomplish this. Here is where you can talk about the players hustling or exhibiting the behaviours you want from them as a coach.
5. If the team loses then say what the team has to work on for a better performance but DO NOT BLAME THE PLAYERS.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Carolyn Savoy has served as the head coach of Dalhousie University's women's basketball team for 32 years. During that time, her Lady Tigers have won nine regular season conference titles, made it to the Canadian version of the "Final Four" six times, won 858 games, and compiled a 49-game winning streak. Carolyn holds a Ph.D. in Sports Psychology from the University of Tennessee, and served as the sports psychology consultant for the Lady Vols 1991 NCAA championship team. Dr. Savoy worked with the NCAA Division 1 national championship team at the University of Tennessee and sports a championship ring. She continues to act a a consultant to this program. She also worked with the New Brunswick Junior golf team who were Canadian national Champions and she worked with the Dalhousie University men's hockey team when they won a Canadian Inter-university Sport bronze medal.