Research Supported Approaches for Coaches

Spotting Strengths

Coaches and student-athletes learn a common strengths language in the athletic arena and clearly identify their respective strengths.

Good coaches can spot strengths in their individual players, and collectively in a team. Some character strengths tend to be more associated with performance, and others more connected to moral or relational character. However, these two areas are not mutually exclusive. Good coaches are able to play to their performance and relational strengths in ways to provide enjoyable and success-conducive environ­ments with the athletes in their charge. Tom Lickona and Matt Davidson, leading character educators and authors of Smart and Good Schools, suggest that performance character focuses on the diligence, perseverance, and self-discipline necessary for a commitment to academic, athletic, and other areas of excellence. They claim that an individual with moral or relational characteristics will embody the traits of “integrity, justice, caring, and respect—needed for successful interpersonal relationships and ethical behavior.”

Character strengths such as hope, perseverance, creativity, and zest are a few traits which, when habituated, provide athletes the greatest opportunity to improve performance and enjoyment. Hope is about goal-setting and optimism, creativity is about finding alternative strategies to improve performance, and zest is about the enthusiasm that players and coaches bring to the field.