Power of Compliments
"It ain't easy being green." With so much to do well and very little or no
practice to learn how, criticism of their work is at its highest in the early stages. Differentiating between what is going well - fairly well - or - not so well is a critical self evaluation skill. When a mentor leads their commentary with a compliment on what new referees are doing well, the new referee instantly sets those skills aside, learning from that benchmark what other skills he/she ought to be working on.

Here's an example of how it works: with both of the new referees present, Mentor says, "Alicia, your positioning with the 2nd to last defender was totally on target. They didn't have an inch to spare. Players were continually looking over to see if you were watching.... Don't change a thing. That was just right!" Then, turning to Ben, says, "Ben, your signals and flag work were crisp, clear, not rushed, not too slow. Everyone knew exactly what you were signalling and you made great eye contact with me. That's the way to do it."

Both are beaming! Nothing need be repeated to the other, the expectations on how to perform each of those functions has been laid out well. They'll undoubtedly spot the other performing these functions in the 2nd half, learning from each other & from their mentor.

Once the compliments have been served, your new referees' dispositions will be open for any appropriate corrective comments that need mentioning. Trust! Trust that they are looking to you to help them get better. Trust that your use of a compliment isn't a gimmick. It is an integral part of getting better. Compliments and corrective comments can co-exist together...especially in the 4 Golden Opportunities found in every game.

The one rule for using this technique is: always use a genuine, authentic compliment. Don't make one up. If a specific compliment does not come to mind, find a generic one, such as, "That was a good first half, I felt like we really began to work as a team. Let's keep that up in the 2nd half. You probably noticed how important eye contact was. It's like the lacing on a football it holds everything together." They get the compliment, a little education is slipped into it and you are done. Let them talk now. Suppose it wasn't a good first half: "Whew, that was a rough first half, but I felt like we really started to work together as a team......"

Some of us have a critical parent inside that can dole out corrective comments but are short on fuel when trying to give compliments. Perhaps we are compliment challenged. Because they can co-exist, reverse the order, go with the compliment first, let it sink in, let them glow in it and enjoy it, then, trust that they know what else you need to do...if the timing is right, bring up the corrective commentary.

It's amazing how compliments go full circle....given enough time and successful mentoring, you'll start hearing compliments from them on how they learned this or that from you, how you were helpful or easy to work with, etc.

Your new referees will have begun to differentiate what they are doing well from what needs to be improved. This is pivotal in their learning curve. They come to us eager to know. Mentors prepare & serve up a delicious meal with this approach. A meal that they will devour. And, they will be happy to work with that mentor again because they know that they are getting somewhere when they work with this mentor. They are getting better!
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