E.L.M. TREE - By Jim Thompson
E for Effort
L for Learning and improvement
M for bouncing back from Mistakes
What was buried in the initial mystifying sport psychology lecture were three keys to success in sports. Athletes on your team absolutely will be successful sooner or later if they…
#1 Routinely give their best
#2 Have a teachable spirit and learn from everything that happens to them
#3 Don’t let mistakes (or fear of mistakes) stop them
Emphasizing the ELM Tree rather than the scoreboard leads to redefining “winning.” Let’s compare the scoreboard and mastery definitions of winner.
The scoreboard definition is results, comparison with others, and mistakes are not okay.
The mastery definition is effort, learning and improving, and mistakes are okay.
Let me explain why the E, the L, and the M are crucial for optimal performance. The ELM Tree focuses on how hard you work while the larger culture is obsessed with scoreboard results. But focusing on the scoreboard is risky for many reasons. Your opponent may be extremely weak (or strong). You may have a run of very bad or good luck. On the other hand, focusing on effort will pay off in every situation.
Implicit in the ELM Tree is that comparison with others are not helpful. A better comparison is with oneself. Am I better now than I was at the beginning of the season? Will I be better at the end of the season than I am now? If so, you are a winner, regardless of the temporary results on the scoreboard because these are questions designed to lead to improvement. They also keep each player motivated to learn, even ones who are on teams with much weaker players.
Finally, mistakes are inevitable. When we ask our players to give 100% and to try to learn new things, they are bound to make mistakes. And if you think about it, it is much better that they make mistakes than to stop extending themselves because they are afraid of making a mistake.
I highly recommend Jim Thompson’s book – The Power of Double-Goal Coaching. It is an amazing resource for athletes and coaches.
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