One of the secrets to coaching is to praise activities that you want repeated. Praising is an inexpensive form of reward that is especially effective with young players who are trying to please. Another level of praise can take the form of certificates that can be handed out after a game or practice to recognize players in a public way for an accomplishment or superior effort.
Sports Esteem has developed a set of player certificates which are available for download:
- General Sports Certificates
- Hockey Specific Certificates
When using certificates, some things coaches should consider are:
- Certificates communicate with players directly and parents indirectly about things coaches find valuable to the team. Sometimes certificates for "best passing" or "best support away from the ball" can help focus a player's attention on needed team skills.
- Overuse of certificates is probably better than underuse. Regular awarding of certificates provides a consistent way to communicate to players.
- Coaches should praise or recognize something in every player. Less skilled players need encouragement to get to their next level of development even if that level is well below average.
- Certificates offer good short term goals and rewards for players and help them measure their progress in ways other than just counting wins.
Certificates may not fit with every coaching style. However, whether delivered on paper or by some other means, praise always helps motivate players.