A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Karch Kiraly: Embrace mistakes and chaos
By Greg Bach
U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball coach Karch Kiraly loves seeing his players struggling during practice.
And making mistakes.
Because it’s all part of the path to learning, improving and excelling.
And he urges you – the volunteer coach – to embrace that same mentality with your teams too, to put them on the fast track to success.
“As coaches we’ve got to promote with our teams a mindset of learning and embracing mistakes and chaos,” says Kiraly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist and arguably the greatest player in the history of the sport. “If we’re operating at the edge of our abilities there are going to be lots of mistakes and we should be celebrating those, not punishing them.”
The 55-year-old Kiraly used this approach every day during the team’s arduous preparations for chasing gold in Rio.
“We try to do that in our gym, too,” he says. “We have time set aside every day just for making mistakes. We call it ‘School Time.’ In ‘School Time’ we make the activities as much like a game as possible so that they are more prepared when we actually play a game.”
When coaches don’t view mistakes and miscues as catastrophic, but instead as building blocks on the staircase to improvement, incredible progress and development is possible.
But it requires coaches recognizing, and sharing with their players, the real value of mistakes in the developmental process.
“We need to get our kids to celebrate mistakes and maybe stop once in a while and point out how awesome it was that we were trying something and didn’t get it right,” Kiraly says. “Because if we’re never making mistakes we’re not learning fast enough.”
Sending kids home after practice with positive messages fuels confidence and passion for the sport. See how Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery makes it happen with his team and adopt his approach to benefit your players, too
Troy Calhoun, the head football coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy, on helping young athletes learn, improve and savor competing
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