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How to fill your players or childrens Emotional Tank

November 4, 2007 09:00 PM


As Responsible Sports Parents and Coaches it is our goal to keep the players Emotional Tanks full. What do we mean by this? A person's Emotional Tank is like a car's gas tank. When it's full, we can go anywhere we want to; when it's empty we can't go at all.

Players with full Emotional Tanks are:

  • more coachable and likely to listen and respond without resistance
  • more optimistic
  • better able to handle adversity

How do Responsible Sports Parents fill their children's Emotional Tanks?
Responsible Sports Parents can help fill their child's emotional tank by creating a balance of both specific truthful praise and specific constructive criticism.  Research shows that the Magic Ratio is 5:1, five praises to one criticism, which fosters the ideal learning environment. 

Children need this level of praise and reinforcement in order to advance.  The key is to avoid empty, unearned praise.  The praise must be truthful and specific (i.e., not just "Way to go," but, "Good thinking, Tim, I noticed in the second half you aimed at the far post on all three of your shots.").

Be sure your non-verbal communication also maintains the Magic Ratio. You fill Emotional Tanks when you listen, nod, clap and smile. Tank drainers include ignoring, frowning, head-shaking, eye-rolling and yelling. If you happen to see a videotape of last week's game, are you embarrassed to see or hear yourself, or do you feel good about your actions on the sidelines?

It's not easy – we know that. But as Responsible Sports Parents, we're committed to working hard on this to make it happen.

How do Responsible Coaches fill their player's Emotional Tanks?
Here are three helpful tools to help Responsible Coaches introduce the emotional tank to their players.

Before practice or a game place players into pairs, creating a buddy system.  In the buddy system players are responsible for filling their partners emotional tank, praising their achievements and helping them bounce back. 

Positive Charting is a technique for recording positive efforts and plays made during practices or games. Your positive chart can simply list all of your players with space to note two or three of their specific positive acts. Click here to download a worksheet to use during practice and games.  Rotate between yourself and assistant coaches to fill out the positive chart.  Reading the completed chart to your players at the start of the next practice never fails to fill tanks.

Lastly, after a game gather the team to join in a Winners' Circle.  Depending on how many players you coach, you may choose to break into smaller groups. Each player will comment on something specific a teammate did well during the game.  As the coach, you go last, and it's your job to have something specific, truthful and positive comments to say about each player who has not yet been recognized. Players grow to look forward to this closing ritual, which builds a tank filler at the end of every competition.

These are just a few of the tools Responsible Coaches and Responsible Sports Parents can use to help fill their players' and childrens' Emotional Tanks.  For more information on how you can become a Responsible Sports Parent or a Responsible Coach click here.



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