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Home of Coaching Best Dr. Monika Schloder Profesional Sport Coaching

Tip of the Month – June 2020

Coach Monika Says…

Setting Performance Goals for the 2020-2021 Season

It is proper timing at this point for athletes to establish performance goals for the upcoming 2020-2021 season since sports programs are not operating at the present. 

  1. Coaches: Send Questionnaire to athletes ages 13 years and older because they are old enough to understand the specific questions (Refer to Sample provided below)
  2. Coaches: Create Goal Questionnaire for younger/developmental athletes with components selected from Section B1-5 below 
  3. Developmental athletes select, complete, and check off what they feel needs improvement, and then consult with their coach (Refer to Sample provided below)

Older Athletes: 5-Step plan to Create Performance Goals 

Example: Refer to https://www.yourswimlog.com/goal-setting-swimmers/

Setting Effective Performance Goals Involves Three Different Types 

  1. Outcome Goals
  • Outcome goals focus on results (winning, scoring, etc.)
  • They are necessary but can cause stress on competition or game day 
  • They can act as motivators when competition or game days are still in the future
  • Whether to achieve these goals depends on personal effort as well as the opponent’s performance

2. Performance Goals

  • Performance goals are focused on achieving or improving one’s own performance objectives (i.e., sprinting time, best swim time (PB), number of goals, etc.)
  • They are more flexible and provide a greater sense of personal control
  • Focusing on these goals can be very helpful for those returning to train or compete after an injury or layoff (i.e. current virus pandemic)

3. Process Goals

  • Process goals focus on the actions/movements that have to be carried out to achieve a good performance
  • They are the best kind of goals to be thinking about on competition or game day because they relate most closely to the athlete’s best focus
  • They can help athletes to compete or play after an injury or concussion

Make Performance Goals Specific – Real specific

  • Develop the framework for success to have big, awesome, and exact goals… 
  • Recognize what meaningful action has to be taken to achieve those goals… 
  • Develop a plan to track your progress… 
  • Develop a plan how to evaluate what is actually working…

A. Performance Goals: What Do I want to accomplish?

  1. In Daily Practice/Training
  2. In One Week
  3. In One Month
  4. Pre-season: What do I want or hope to accomplish?
  5. Mid-season: How much has been accomplished?
  6. Post-season Evaluation: What was achieved?

B. Skill Goals to Establish?

  1. Physical Fitness – Components of Physical Literacy
  2. Technical skills
  3. Mental/Psychological skills
  4. Tactical skills – depending on age (if ready)
  5. Social Interaction skills

Selection of Skill Items:Example – Swimming 

B1 – ABC+S of physical literacy (agility, static & dynamic balance, coordination, and speed), flexibility, suppleness, muscular strength, aerobic endurance, rhythm, etc.

B2a – Learning and refining Start Technique

B2b – Learning and refining stroke technique: Front Crawl Stroke (FC), Back Crawl   Stroke (BK), Butterfly (FY), and Breaststroke (BR) 

B2c – Learning and improving FC and BK Turn, FY and BR Turn 

B3a – Learning to listen better, follow instructions and improve concentration 

B3b – Learning to stay focused

B4 –   Depending on age: Race strategy and Race pace of 50m, 100m, and 200m

B5 –   Learn to interact and respect teammates; follow club rules; demonstrate good behaviour in training, competitions; demonstrate leadership skills (example: lead Warm-up




Schloder, M.E. (2019). Supplementary Lecture Notes: Psychology of Performance. Calgary, AB: Arête Sports/www.coachingbest.com

Schloder, M.E. (2020). Psychology of Performance. Reference Manual (pp. 21-22). Ottawa, ON, Canada: National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). 

Schloder, M.E. (2016). Kalos Swim Team. Personal Program Planner. Calgary, AB: Arête Sports/www.coachingbest.com

Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://getpocket.com/explore/item/goals-don-t-replace-systems-and-vice-versa?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Retrieved May 13, 2020, from https://www.yourswimlog.com/goal-setting-swimmers/

Body Language in Coaching: A Tool for Effective Communication

Note: The plan was to continue the Series “The Dirty – Not-so-little Secret in Coaching’ – abuse in sports but I spent over 6-weeks gathering the research. It turned out to be too lengthy and actually colossal – although the story must be told to raise greater awareness at all levels of sport. However, I have to re-work the findings and edit the report to a more acceptable reading volume.

You will find the topic in this article very informative and valuable to coaching (originally planned for the July issue). It was presented at an ASCA Swimming World Clinic and published by ASCA.

Coaching at its core is an exercise in trust. Athletes depend on coaches for knowledge, guidance, inspiration, and motivation. They rely on coaches to set the parameters by which athletes can strive for their best…John Dalla Costa on the “value of trust” (Center for Ethical Orientation, Toronto, Canada)

…Body Language is the outward reflection of a person’s emotional condition, defined as gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which a person manifests various physical, mental or emotional states and communicates non-verbally with others

It is easy to make assumptions when trying to ‘read someone’s body language’ based on a single movement or gesture or when verbal meanings are unclear. Shaking hands, shrugging, nodding, and shaking the head are more apparent behaviors nowadays than in earlier civilizations. Historically, body language is categorized as a form of paralanguage in which non-verbal communication elements hold and convey meaning during personal interaction. 

True meaning is more likely to come across in groups or clusters of behaviors. If the person is crossing arms in response to something that is/was said they might be just cold. On the other hand, a person crossing arms and looking away clearly communicates a stronger message of displeasure or disagreement. People typically exhibit three types of behavior: touch, body position, and body movement. These come in clusters of signals and/or postures; they happen at the same time and convey a person’s feelings very clearly. One has to be aware and sensitive, however, that people from other cultures are likely to use body language in different ways, depending on their social norms. 

  • Touch or haptic communication (sense of touch) is the more intimate of the three, implying friendship or domination or both. It may be used to get someone’s attention, express sympathy or intimacy. The way we move within a group or stand-alone can convey the way we actually feel about ourselves. 
  • Kinesic communication is sent by the way we stand or sit, gestures we use, and our facial expressions (i.e., interpretation of body language such as facial expressions, gestures or, more formally, non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body or the body as a whole). Generally, the more space we take up, the more comfortable and assertive we feel. Facial expressions relay important information regarding our emotions, and/or ability to understand what’s going on around us, whereas gestures add emphasis to the words we say. 
  • Proximal communication has to do with the way we position our body when interacting with others. There are degrees of personal space: Up close or an arm length’s away – indicates the trust we have in the other person or knowing the other person well. The direction we angle the body in relation to another: face-to-face or at an angle provides clues as to the level of intimacy or potential confrontation.

Multiple demands by athletes, parents, and club administrators create pressures, which can influence daily coaching behavior unless one has developed specific coping strategies. According to research, 60-80% of initial opinion is formed in less than four minutes as athletes make judgments whether or not the coach is approachable (interpreted as easy to talk to, friendly, amicable, sociable, and open) or unapproachable for that day (perceived as distant, unfriendly, grumpy, aloof, cold, and/or standoffish). Such interpretation is critical for the coach-athlete interaction since “the coach is the true agent of change” in any sport environment. Coaches are, however, not always aware of the immediate affect of their body language or emotional signals they send off. Yet, they are ‘on display, observed and studied’ by athletes before, during, and after training; before competition or the event; during competition or the event; after competition or event; during de-briefing or evaluation; during non-training and/or social situations. “See yourself as a book that interested people read – whether or not you want them to”… And one should always remember, “Pictures are worth a thousand words!” 

It is said, “the world’s greatest leaders throughout history have been good orators and use great body language to be effective in their delivery.” Similarly, coaches need to display effort, enthusiasm, and passion to motivate their athletes. Statistics imply that without body language up to 50-65% of human communication is lost or at least ‘unreadable.’ Subconscious gestures with hands, facial expressions and body language can often communicate more clearly the ‘true’ meaning. Most of us are a reflection of our parents…they taught us that being emotional is acceptable or …“men don’t cry”… Males and females employ pretty much the same body language although women might use it more than men. However, cultural norms influence body language based on gender, age, status, and specific culture, which can be misinterpreted or can elicit unexpected responses. Body language speaks volumes as a form of non-verbal communication involving stylized gestures, postures, body poses, eye movements, and physiological signs, which act as cues to others. Humans send and receive non-verbal signals all the time, and interpret such signals subconsciously. Body language and words have to be absolutely in sync because true meaning comes from gestures, not necessarily from words. Someone stated that, “words are the spaghetti sauce while spaghetti is the expression of the body.” Therefore, we need to give off images that make people trust us. 

Most of us may not know or realize the extent of the signals we send. This means, ‘the way’ we say it – not just ‘what’ we say, is equally important. For example, we move the face, make visible gestures and exhibit subconscious actions like breathing shifts, sighs, huffs, heaves, puffs, gasps, sulking, change of voice and skin tone. Body language can denote pleasure and displeasure, happiness and sadness, comfort and discomfort, interest and disinterest, frustration, doubt, confusion, and personal needs. On the other hand, when the feelings of a person are revealed the underlying reason of such emotion is not. Interpretation and knowledge of the motive of that feeling is necessary for accurate detection.

Micro expressions are facial expressions when people try to repress or suppress an emotion. If they are unable to do so completely, emotions may flash onto the face very rapidly sometimes for as short as 1/125th of a second. Micro expressions along with hand gestures and posture send off signals that register almost immediately, like a ‘silent orchestra with a long-lasting repercussion.’ Although many of us use these fleeting expressions, about 85% of people can improve them. There are some misconceptions about the statistics of non-verbal communication. In the 1970s, Albert Mehrabian established the 7% – 38% – 55% rule to denote the amount of communication conferred by words, tone, and body language. The findings of that particular study reveal that the words we speak only convey about 7% of the overall message sent; 38% is attributed to voice tone or inflection and 55% to body language. His findings, however, have been somewhat generalized to 7% (verbal), 38%, and 55% (total 93%) as a working formula for communication. In fact, these numbers only reflect the results of that particular study; they are more about the importance of visuals and the degree to which we rely on them during communication. Mehrabian was only referring to cases that expressed feelings or attitudes such as a person saying…I do not have a problem with you… whereby the focus is on the tone of voice and body language of the person rather than the actual spoken words. It is therefore a common misconception that these percentages apply to all communication. Disagreement among experts puts the level of non-verbal communication as high as 80% while others propose 60-70%, although it could be around 50-65%, according to some. 

Regardless of these differences, the “way something is said” inclusive body language and eye contact is 13 times more important than the information given since body language can undermine the message or information. In essence, words and gestures can say something totally different whereas body language is more reliable than facial expressions. For example, when the face and body in photographs showed conflicting emotions, participants’ judgment of facial expression was impeded and became biased toward the emotion expressed by the body. The brain possesses the mechanism sensitive to the agreement between facial expression and body language and can evaluate information quickly. On the other hand, various studies show facial communication to be believed 4.3 times more often than verbal meaning. Other findings denote that verbal communication in a flat tone is 4 times more likely to be understood than pure facial expression. Some experts estimate that human communication consists of 93% body language and para-linguistic cues (Paralanguage refers to the non-verbal elements of communication used to modify meaning and convey emotion; the study of paralanguage is known as para-linguistics). Paralanguage may be expressed consciously or subconsciously, including voice pitch and volume, in some cases intonation of speech (grammar), and at times the definition is restricted to vocally produced sounds. 

Reading People’s Body Language

Physical Expression

  • Kinesics– known as the study of body movement and expressions. Physical expressions such as waving, pointing, touching and slouching are forms of non-verbal communication. Gestures can emphasize a point or relay a message; posture can reveal boredom or great interest; touch can convey encouragement or caution; mirroring someone’s body language indicates that they are understood.


  • Crossing arms over the chest– sends a basic and powerful body signal, erecting an unconscious barrier between oneself and the other (although the person might be cold, usually clarified by rubbing hands or huddling). In a serious confrontational situation when the person also leans away from the speaker, it means an expression of opposition.
  • Looking at the speaker while crossing the arms– indicates the person is bothered but wants to talk
  • Posture or extended eye contact, and standing properly while listening– shows interest
  • Hand gesture at sides– is interpreted as a drop of energy while bringing the hand closer to the chest is understood as signs of energy, excitement and motivation. 
  • Walking up behind a person– is taken as alerting and intimidating, or assuming there is a problem. 
  • High-pitched or shrill voice (common in females), flat or monotonous voice is difficult for the listener– One should always a) speak clearly and exercise articulation; b) vary the pitch and pace and c) insert correct pauses to ‘catch’ the listener’s interest. Most men in general battle to modulate the voice (change the tone, volume, frequency) while women usually need to pay special attention to resonance (quality, volume, and pitch) as a lower voice quality has been found to be more effective.

Body Posturing or Posing

  • Pacing while talking with repetitive gestures detracts– gestures need to be expressive, emphasizing the message or content but need to be neutral 
  • Harsh or blank facial expression– often denotes outright hostility 
  • Touching one’s face during conversation– can sometimes denote deceit or an act of withholding information
  • Tilting the head to one side or eyes looking straight ahead at the speaker but becoming slightly unfocused– indicates boredom. On the other hand, a head tilt may point to a sore neck, or amblyopia (‘lazy eye’), and/or other ocular problems by the listener. So, correct interpretation is essential.
  • Tilting the head to one side and showing the ear– means the person is actually listening. People may start to mirror, causing the other person to tilt the head and listen more. 
  • Tensioning and releasing face and scalp muscles– is evidence of emotional changes as are changes of skin tone and texture

Signals of the Eyes

It is crucial to interpret eye contact. The eyes are said to be the ‘mirror of the soul.’ Learning to ‘read’ and interpret eye movement is crucial. They are powerful tools, very expressive, send many cues and signals, and detect tiny changes in the body language of others.

  • Consistent eye contact– indicates the person is thinking positively of what the speaker is saying. It can also mean that the other person doesn’t trust the speaker enough to take their eyes off the speaker.
  • Direct eye contact but ‘fiddling’ with something– points toward interest or the fact that attention is somewhere else
  • Lack of eye contact– can mean negativity. However, people with anxiety disorders are often unable to make eye contact without some personal discomfort. Also, cultural differences may demand ‘lowering of the eyes’ due to respect or humility or subservience.
  • Looking up to the left– indicates visual thinking and forming mental pictures
  • Lowering the eyes– indicates modesty or submission. This may relate more to a sign of respect for others or could convey a feeling of inferiority. 
  • Narrowing the eyes deliberately– conveys anguish and distaste. One has to be very aware of this as it may also be directed toward the person, who is the cause or source of that displayed feeling.
  • Attention invariable wanders and the eyes stare away for an extended period– denotes the person is not convinced by someone’s words
  • Unfocused eyes– the person’s ‘mind is wandering; they are not paying attention; it may be a sign of boredom. Literally, he/she is not focused.
  • Averted gaze, touching the ear, or scratching the skin– shows disbelief
  • Glistening eyes– signal strong emotion of either distress, short of crying, or excitement such as passion and triumph
  • Glaring eyes– used to intimidate and can illicit hostile reactions or responses
  • Frequent blinking during conversation– denotes high interest. Some use it to seek attention.
  • Excessive blinking– is a well-known display of someone lying. However, recent evidence shows that the absence of blinking could also be a more reliable factor for lying than excessive blinking. 
  • A wink with the closed eye directed at the person– implies a ‘shared’ secret
  • Eye angle changes (even at a distance)– shows that attention is diverted away onto something. The precision timing of eye contact indicates interest, disinterest, or intimidation. 
  • Eye pupil size changes– signals fluctuating emotions as interests peaks and/or wanes

Three States of Looking’ 

These represent the different states of being:

  • Looking from one eye to the other eye and then to the forehead is a sign of taking an authoritative position
  • Moving from one eye to the other eye and then to the nose signals that the person is engaging in ‘level’ conversation with neither party holding superiority
  • Looking from one eye to the other eye and then to the lips indicates a strong romantic feeling or flirting stage


  • People with certain disabilities or those with autism use and understand body language differently, or not at all. Interpreting their gestures and facial expressions (or lack thereof) in the context of normal body language usually leads to misinterpretations and misunderstandings (especially, if body language is given priority over spoken language) 
  • Signs and body signals tend to vary by cultural era, gender, and among people from various ethnic/racial groups, who could interpret body language in different ways

Examples of Gestures and Interpretations

  • Hands on knees– readiness
  • Hands on hips– impatience
  • Locking hands behind the back– self-control
  • Locked hands behind the head– self-confidence
  • Sitting with leg over chair with legs folded– indifference
  • Legs point in a particular direction– into direction of interest
  • Crossed arms– submissiveness or defensiveness

Body Language and Space

Interpersonal space refers to the imaginary ‘psychological bubble’ when someone is standing way too close (example people in an elevator!). Research reveals “four different zones of interpersonal space” in North America:

  • Intimate distance– ranges from touching to about 18” apart; it is the space around us that we reserve for close and intimate members.
  • Personal distance– begins about an arm length away, starting around 18” proximity and ending about 4’ away; it is used in conversation with friends and to chat with others during group discussion. 
  • Social distance– ranges from 4-8 feet away; it applies to strangers, newly formed groups and new acquaintances. 
  • Public distance– includes anything more that 8’ away; it is used for speeches, lectures, and theater; essentially, it is reserved for larger audiences. 

Unintentional Gestures and Body Cues

Recently, interest has centered on ‘unintentional cues’ such as: 

  • Rubbing the eyes
  • Resting the chin 
  • Touching the lips
  • Nose etching
  • Head scratching
  • Finger locking
  • Narrowing the eyes, ‘bulges’ in the cheeks and nose– interpreted as a “cue of pain” (2010 research on facial recognition on mice to study human reaction of pain and subsequent expression). This is important to determine if an athlete is hurting, in pain or using ‘discomfort’ as an excuse. 

Sexual Interest and Body Language

It is important for any coach interacting especially with females, mixed gender, youth, and growing adolescents to understand signals that may indicate special personal or sexual interest on part of the athlete. Our role is to be aware, sensitive, and in control to avoid potential misleading or miss-interpretations, which in some instances lead to allegations and potential loss of the occupation!

‘Special Interest’ Indicators

  • Exaggerated gestures and body movements
  • Echoing and mirroring the speaker
  • Room encompassing glances 
  • Leg crossing 
  • Pointing the knee at the speaker
  • Hair tossing or touching
  • Head tilting 
  • Pelvic rotation
  • Showing wrists
  • Playing with earrings, wristbands, or other jewelry
  • Adjusting clothes
  • Laughing, giggling, and smiling for no reason 
  • Eye contact
  • Touching the speaker
  • Playfulness
  • Seeking close proximity

Since verbal communication accounts between 7-10% of the overall means to convey a message one can never determine the truthfulness or sincerity of people by their words alone (Haynes, 2009). In fact, words transmitted verbally often do not reflect peoples’ thoughts or feelings. 

We need to ‘See through’ the Emotions to determine

  • Interest
  • Boredom
  • Signals of excitement – frustration or dismay – anger – nervousness – tension – reassurance
  • Signals of authority or power
  • Ways a person is thinking
  • Ways a person acts to convey pride
  • A person is more open to agree
  • Actions to make someone trust you
  • Ways to build rapport
  • Ways to open conversations
  • Ways action-oriented people act or move
  • Ways confident people act or move 
  • Ways to read and counteract potential objections
  • Ways to make lasting impressions
  • If a person is keeping a secret
  • If another person is suspicious 
  • Ways to detect a liar

Guide Lines to ‘Reading’ Body Language

  • Women tend to be more perceptive than men in this aspect.
  • Each movement or gesture is a valuable key to specific emotion a person may be feeling or is displaying. Remember that body language is more honest than spoken words!
  • The key to ‘reading someone’s body language’ is the understanding of the person’s emotional condition while listening to what they are saying, and the circumstances they are in while saying it (i.e., understand the emotional condition and/or context)
  • Think of specific coaching situations where this can be valuable!

Rules for Accurate Interpretation

  • Read Gestures in Clusters!
    • Recognizing a whole cluster is far more reliable than an isolated gesture
  • Look for Congruence!
    • Non-verbal signals have 5 times more impact than verbal ones. When the two do not match, people tend to rely on the non-verbal and disregard the verbal.
  • Read Gestures in Context!
    • Interpret gestures based on the circumstance, environment or climate (tightly crossed arms)!

Awareness of Potential Communication Barriers

  • Be aware of potential social communication barriers
  • Gender, age, status and cultural norms influence BL
  • Different cultures use and express BL language in different ways
  • Autistic athletes use different BL
  • Athlete’s perception is different from the coach
  • Athlete may not be willing to work through the process
  • Athlete may lack the knowledge needed to understand fully the discussion
  • Athlete may be too emotional to grasp the communication
  • Athlete may lack the motivation to listen
  • Coach may have difficulty to express themselves clearly
  • Emotions of both parties may interfere with the communication process

Using ‘Open’ Body Language

  • There are several key behaviors, which enhance the so-called ‘Open’ body language, interpreted as an action that the other person is not ‘crossing,’ covering up, or hiding something

Display of Positive Body Language

  • Be like the ‘solar system’ – ‘stand out!’
  • Remove any existing barriers with an easy smile and portray a feeling of being comfortable
  • The other person is attracted more easily because the behavior denotes warmth, acceptance, and friendliness
  • ‘Feel grounded!’ This builds up posture. Be aware of posture (head, shoulders, back, abdominals and buttock muscles)
  • Stand tall with good posture, maintain eye contact at all times, keep the palms open and legs uncrossed, and turn the body toward the other party
  • Posture and emotions need to be congruent
  • The voice is calm, firm, and in a measured tone, which denotes authority and confidence
  • Look confident and exude a sense of self-esteem
  • Seek an opportunity to create a field of force and energy and be ‘present’ with the other person
  • Make it an environment of attraction rather resentment

Active Listening Skills

The ability to listen is one of the most important communication skills and it is a fundamental leadership skill. It is vital because it makes the coach more effective and productive, creates the opportunity to build rapport and show support. It produces a better teaching/coaching environment, facilitates the process when trying to resolve problems, helps to answer questions, and assists in finding underlying meanings in what others have to say. The “ability to listen is a learned skill! It is NOT easy! As someone said in jest…

We were given two ears but only one mouth. This is because God knew that listening was twice as hard as talking…

Listening Effectively

We can divide listening skills into several stages:

  • Hear the words
  • Focus on the message
  • Understand and interpret the message
  • Analyze and evaluate the message
  • Respond to the message
  • Remember the message

Five Levels of Listening

“Seek first to understand before being understood” (Covey, 1998, p. 124). This emphasizes the importance of listening at a level that goes beyond “just hearing words.” There are five levels of listening, according to Covey (1998):

  • Ignoring
    • Not trying to listen!
  • Pretending 
    • Listening even though you are NOT!
  • Listening Selectively
    • To only what interests you!
  • Attentive Listening***
    • Use this level most of the time.
    • Involves listening to understand the speaker… And … comparing what he/she says with your point of view.

Guide Lines to “Attentive” Listening

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Can look into the eyes or focus on the face
  • Can look away because constant eye contact may distract the speaker
  • Use body language that shows interest
  • Lean toward the speaker
  • Nod or shake the head to show you are listening.
  • Hand or arm on the shoulder can signal reassurance or understanding.
  • Affirm you are listening.
  • Acknowledge that you are listening with responses such as: mh, uh-uh, oh my, okay, and I see.
  • Listen to the full thought – avoid interrupting
  • Restate the speaker’s words
  • Ask questions to clarify or learn more

Listening with “Empathy”

Listening with empathy involves “both the heart and mind to understand the speaker’s words, intent, and feelings” (Covey, 2007).

  • Restating what the speaker says in his/her words shows you heard the words
  • To begin to understand the underlying meaning of the words – rephrase what the speaker is saying in your own words
  • To get the real message in the conversation, reflect the feelings you are hearing in your own words
  • Until you address the feelings, you won’t understand what is being communicated

Guide Lines to Listening with “Empathy”

  • Check your defensive reactions
  • If the topic is emotional for the speaker you may react strongly
  • Instead of listening, you want to respond or defend
  • If you don’t check this reaction, you will most likely ‘shut down’ any further real communication
  • If you feel yourself ‘getting defensive” – try to stay ‘curious’ – ask questions, or make a Non-judgmental comment…like ‘hmm’

Barriers to Listening

Many kinds of distractions interfere with our ability to hear, listen to, and understand athletes or others. Some distractions are easier identified as so-called barriers:

  • Environmental 
    • Noise – others talking nearby – public address system – announcements – music –traffic – iPods
    • Too hot/cold – too windy
    • Weather conditions
    • Being hungry – tired – headache – upset stomach – getting chilled – other ailments
    • Chairs and bleachers (!) are uncomfortable – use desk or table between the parties involved
    • If one has a physical advantage such as height
    • Height is artificially created by setting chairs, bleachers, viewing area
    • Wearing wet clothes (swimmer) or sweaty clothes
      • Physiological 
    • Our ability to think is 5 x faster than we speak
    • Creates a natural lapse where we fill in the time with our thoughts instead of staying focused on the speaker
    • ‘Jumping ahead’ with our thoughts
    • Colds and ear infections may interfere
    • Speech problems may interfere (some stutter when nervous)
    • Pronunciation, accent, errors or misuse of words may interfere
  • Psychological barriers are more difficult to identify
    • If someone criticizes you, you may fixate on that and hear very little else or hear it through the ‘filter’ of being criticized (selective hearing)
    • Athletes (others) may shut down attempts to communicate with you if your verbal and non-verbal indicates you are not interested
    • Body language indicates that you would rather be somewhere else
    • Body language indicates you think your ideas have more merit
    • We all have ‘hot button’ words that may trigger our reactions
    • We get ‘lost’ in the emotions to respond to those words
    • We can compound the barrier with the assumptions we make about the people who use those words
    • If you are not sure of the reason you are listening – you will be poorly motivated to do so!
  • Social barriers (See previous)

Guidelines to Effective Listening:

  • STOP! Whatever you are doing!
  • LOOK! Make eye contact and face the other party squarely!
  • LISTEN! Listen carefully to words and emotions combined!
  • USE non-verbal cues like nodding to show compassion, sympathy or understanding!
  • PATIENCE! Always allow the other party to finish, especially when emotions are involved!
  • RESPOND! Re-state or rephrase to ensure both parties understand clearly!
  • QUESTION! Ask questions for more information or clarity!

Sabotaging the Intention to Understand

If you want to understand the other person, you need to keep focus on them…

If you turn the focus on yourself by interjecting and/or trying to fit what they are saying into your perspective, it becomes difficult to truly understand what is being said.

  • Judging the other person
  • Deciding whether the other’s viewpoint is right or wrong
  • Explaining to other person what you think underlies their ideas or opinions
  • Turning the conversation around to your viewpoint
  • Giving advice (unless specifically asked)

Coaches should become familiar with the rules for accurate interpretation and increase their understanding of potential communication barriers. It is critical for the coach-athlete interaction to develop special awareness, sensitivity, and techniques to ‘read body language effectively’ [females are found to be more perceptive, according to research]. This includes body gestures, unintentional signs, body posturing and poses, physical and emotional indicators, eye signals, body language and space (proximity), etc. 

Foremost, coaches should become skilled at presenting themselves with ‘open and positive body language and improve listening skills.” Repeated video observation is one tool to identify respective personal communication skills and/or behavior, followed by practicing effective body language during daily interaction. Ultimately, the way we communicate plays a large role when making a good impression. Upright posture, eye, contact, handshake, the way we dress, and the ability to ‘read’ the body language of others is significant for personal interaction and successful human relationships. 

Practicing Effective Body Language and Awareness

  • Consider the respective sport culture, cultural/ethnic, and gender differences
  • Consider any language barrier and English as a second language
  • Match voice and pace
  • Match body language [mirror] with the other party
  • Write down key points for better communication
  • Become aware of personal tendencies under stress
  • Use videotaping to analyze personal gesture habits and communication skills
  • Attempt to coach a portion of the daily training without using words(!)

Coaches should

  • Realize that body language is more honest than spoken words
  • Become sensitive to the signals being transmitted by athletes at all times
  • Pay special attention to ‘reading’ athletes’ emotional signals in competition
  • Learn to identify the differential signals by athletes under stress, nervousness, and confidence

Communication is Most Successful WHEN

  • Both sender and receiver understand the same message
  • It is a 2-Way Communication Process and Coaches
    • Listen to the ‘pulse’ of athletes and watch for Non-verbal cues
    • Ask a lot of questions to engage the athlete{s}
    • Avoid the “WHY” question format (Why did you do this? … Why do you think or feel that way?) This type of questioning puts the other party on the defensive! The communication becomes reactionary or negative. 
      • Instead say … you did this, say this, believe this, and feel that way because…? The process becomes one of ‘thinking’ than an emotional and defensive response.
    • Realize that 50% of coaching is ‘listening’ 
    • Practice to improve listening skills
    • Possess and demonstrate ‘great’ listening skills
    • Practice effective BL during training
    • Videotape BL to improve the process.


Coaching Association of Canada (2008). Canadian National Coaching Certification Program

(NCCP). Coaching and leading effectively. Version 1.3. Reference Material (pp. 14-17). Ottawa, ON, CAN: Coaching Association of Canada.

Covey, S. R. (1998). The 7 habits of highly effective people training manual. Version 2.0. Salt Lake City, UT: Franklin Covey.

Covey, S. R. (2005). The 7 habits of highly effective people. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2007). The leadership challenge (4th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Imprint of John Wiley & Sons.

Schloder, M.E. (2010). Body language in coaching: A tool for effective communication. Indianapolis, IN: ASCA World Clinic in Swimming. August 30-September 5, 2010.

Tip of the Month – May 2020

Coach Monika Says…

How to Boost Your Athlete’s Immunity during the Virus Pandemic 


I discovered this post on the Website of TrueSport (refer to Reference). Although their recommendations are for the Annual Flu season, we can safely assume that these would equally apply to the present COVID-19 pandemic. Due to current social isolation requirements we presently don’t have to deal with the struggle to keep young athletes healthy when friends and classmates get sick. However, here are simple nutritional tips to help boost athletes’ immunity, and hopefully they stay healthy when school returns and sports resume later this year.

Adding More Colors 

Fruits and vegetables can be a powerful medicine. TrueSport Expert Kristen Ziesmer, registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily from all the colors of the rainbow – preferably, two fruits and three vegetables. This helps ensure that your athlete is getting the necessary vitamins to stay healthy: vitamins A, C, and E are all critical to a high-functioning immune system.

Adding Zinc-Containing Foods 

Researchers have found that zinc can boost immune function in children, yet globally, one in six people is deficient in the mineral. Foods high in zinc include red meat, shellfish, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, cashews, and dairy. 

If you have a ‘picky eater’ at home, try these delicious options:

  • Granola or oatmeal with low-fat milk
  • Trail mix: cheerio’s, raisins, peanuts
  • Peanut butter on whole-grain bread
  • Turkey, ham, or roast beef sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Hamburger on whole-grain bun
Limiting Processed Foods 

The Cleveland Clinic also recommends limiting processed foods for young athletes as the gut bacteria that thrive on highly processed sugars aren’t as immune-system-boosting as the bacteria that thrive on a healthier, high-fiber diet. Encourage your athlete to consume more whole foods, including brightly coloured fruits and veggies, as well as zinc-rich foods (see previous).

Adding Pre- and Probiotic-Rich Foods

Probiotics, helpful bacteria that are naturally found in the body can help boost your athlete’s immunity during cold and flu (i.e., Virus season). A recent study on allergy prevention and treatment shows a decrease in upper respiratory infections when using probiotics as they can guard against viral infections. Rather than popping pills, introduce fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi (Korean side dish of vegetables – may not be every child’s favourite!). If you have a ‘picky eater’, consult your family physician to get a recommendation on whether a probiotic is right for your athlete. According to Ziesmer, “provide probiotics with food, such as bananas, garlic, onions, whole wheat bread, and asparagus.”

New Canada and US Food Guides

Check out the 2019 updated Canada Food Guide (January 22, 2019) versus the US Food Pyramid, which presents an image of the ‘Food Plate’ as compared to its previous 2015 ‘Food Pyramid.’ The objective is to make sure your child and teen athlete consume the daily requirements of all food types.


January 22, 2019

New Canada Food Guide – 3 Groups

Eat Protein Foods

Make Water Your Drink of Choice

Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:2011-06-02-mypyramidpage1.png   Schlots:Users:monikaschloder:Desktop:5b9f19e6240000310095c0e8.jpeg

Previous US Food Pyramid Updated US Food Plate – 4 Groups

*Bonus Tip: AND… Don’t forget to Wash the Hands! 

Proper hand washing is the #1 recommendation from health authorities to prevent sickness from spreading, even with a boosted immune system. It is still important to help your athlete get in the habit of washing their hands frequently and effectively by rubbing soapy hands with water for at least 20 seconds (some medical experts say that warm or cold water does not matter). While one can never completely safeguard against getting sick, but with a few simple preventative measures – that should be healthy habits anyway – we can help boost the immune system.


Canada Food Guide (2019, January 22). Retrieved May 4, 2020, from https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

TrueSport Program (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2020, from http://learn.truesport.org/boost-athletes-immunity-flu-season/

US Department of Health and Human Services. Food & Nutrition Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2015-2020) (8th ed.). Retrieved May 4, 2020, from https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition

Coach – Athlete – Coach – Parent: Building Positive Relatonships

We all need some uplifting news at this time! Digressing from previous Newsletters on the rampant abuse in sports, the focus is on “Building positive relationships between coaches, athletes, and parents.” Establishing the ‘open communication channel’ is very crucial – something most clubs and coaches could improve whenever sports resume this year. I have always been a ‘stickler’ for good communication between all parties involved!


One issue in the coaching ranks is the perception by society in general that coaching is ‘not a real profession’ like lawyers, doctors, etc., because ‘anyone can coach!’ It follows the same ‘dented’ image of ‘PE’ school programs. “Only those who can’t make it in other fields become ‘PE’ teachers, someone stated to me in a dental office! So, go ahead, kick a ball, tackle your man, or dribble the ball! Not a fair assessment but the societal view… but the major reason ‘PE’ gets eliminated from many Elementary and Junior High school programs! So, I am a parent and want my kid to play – therefore, I volunteer to coach without special training! Imagine if this was true for any other profession! 

Let’s Define ‘Profession’…

…A calling requiring specialized knowledge, long and intensive preparation including instruction of skills and methods as well as in the scientific, historical or scholarly principles underlying such skills and methods. It is maintained by force of organization or concerted opinion with high standards of achievement and conduct. It is committing its members to continued study and to a kind of work, which has for its prime time purpose the rendering of public service (Webster’s Third New international Dictionary)…

Building Solid Level of Trust

The process of communication depends foremost on integrity, trust, and transparency between all parties involved! We assume that the coaching staff has the necessary qualifications and experience to lead the team and the program. When considering collaborative relationships, the four most common elements needed to develop trust are: competence, reliability, integrity, and communication. Without any one of these, it can be difficult to establish the trust needed for a sustainable and successful collaboration.

  • Value relationships and don’t take them for granted 
  • Keep your word and follow through with your actions
  • Learn to communicate effectively with others
  • It takes a while to build and earn trust
  • It may take time when making decisions. Think before acting too quickly
Interchange: Club Administration – Coaches – Parents 

Schedule a Pre-season meeting with club administration, coaches and parents to share the club’s vision (mission statement), club philosophy, coaching approach to deal with athletes, rules and regulation, expected behaviour and consequences if such are violated. I designed a behaviour contract whereby coaches, athletes and parents sign. In addition, provide nutrition guidelines and recommendations for athletes. 

Prior to the pre-season meeting, I found it very helpful to mail out a pre-season questionnaire to returning parents to confirm their expectations from the program. These should also be available at the pre-season meeting for new parents. (Refer to Sample Questionnaire below)

The mission statement and club philosophy should not only be posted on the Club Website but also at the training facility where it is easily visible. Reason: If new parents want to observe the practice in order to decide to enrol their child… then the information lays out the process during training, which has to match what is actually going on in training (being observed). New rules or changes or updates need to be communicated through meetings, bulletins, and/or emails. 

Creating a Positive Environment so Parents Feel the Coach is Approachable and that they are given Ownership in the Program

The communication between administration and especially between coach [coaching staff] and parents should continue throughout the season with scheduled meetings at reasonable intervals (example: every 6-8 weeks). I found monthly bulletins, newsletters, nutrition tips, etc. to be tremendously helpful because parents feel involved and appreciated. This means, however, coaches need to be up-to-date on any new research related to training, nutrition (example: New US Food/Plate Guide), medical or injury issues, etc. I found that many parents had questions with issues relating to meals before training, competition, what to eat, what not to eat, sleep, rest, etc. This is another reason coaches need to be qualified, not just coach because their child needs to play or compete!

Coach – Parent[s]

It is crucial that coaches explain the program and personal philosophy, and any other important aspects. Therefore, all parties need to understand the vision, short-and long-term goals of the program, and athletes’ pursuit for personal achievement. Coach – Parent communication has to be clear and concise – not confusing or vague in the explanation or information delivery.

  • I have discovered throughout my coaching experience that parents primarily want to get informed how their child/children is/are performing as to their technical skill progression, physical, mental, emotional, and social development. This is very similar to school report cards. Scheduled parent information sessions and report cards every 6-8 weeks (depends on length of season) are good solutions to prevent communication gaps. It assures parents that they “do indeed matter, and are not ‘just paying the bills!’” (Refer to Sample Report Card/Kalos Swim – Calgary below)
Training Plans 

Post the Seasonal or Annual Plan showing periodization and macro-cycles (months/ weeks/days/dates of competition/games/physical testing/psychological testing (if any)/ nutrition workshops/Volume and Intensity of training. 

For example, I use a large plastic laminated chart to post the annual plan on the pool wall. Any parent can look at the day and date … and can ask to see the detailed training plan for that day!

It is very useful to organize all plans in the ‘Coach Binder’, which is available if questions or issues arise. For example: A worried mother told me that her son didn’t learn anything during the last session. I pointed out the day and date on the chart, and then showed her the detailed training plan in the Binder! 

Coach – Athletes[s] Communication

Importantly at the start of each daily training session coaches should briefly introduce the objectives for the day (experts recommend 20 seconds). If the introduction is longer, athletes lose interest and do not listen, the mental aspects (what to focus on, and concentration to perform the skills to the best effort).

Explain what are objectives for the session: cognitive (what are they expected to learn); physical aspects (what is needed to improve/perform the required skills); technical skills (what skills are trained today). 

Judging from questions and subsequent responses on the Facebook ‘Coaches’ Exchange’ Forum, many coaches seem to lack an acceptable format for their daily training plan. ‘Scribbled’ notes on a piece of paper as shown on Facebook postings are not sufficient! Lesson/training plans are the official documents and actually serve in Court if an event needs to be defended such as accidents, improper training methods, etc. For example, the athlete may not be physically ready for the skill; the athlete may not mentally be ready; the skill requirements are not age-appropriate or too demanding (skill is ‘over their head’). By the way, I had to attend such a court hearing and give expert testimony! My plans have always been very detailed as they also include the coach’s reflection on athletes’ performance, and a self-evaluation, i.e., achieving that session’s objectives. (Refer to Sample Lesson Plan)

Issues – Problems – Conflicts: Taking the Solution-based Approach 

     Lecture Series: Schloder, M.E. (2018)

Confronting and dealing with issues and problems in sports programs (coaches – athletes – parents or staff) is not only extremely challenging but difficult and very stressful. In fact, it takes specialty training in conflict management because the process is about understanding interpersonal relationships, possessing conflict resolution skills, demonstrating patience, and foremost great listening skills. Conflicts are normal experiences that arise naturally as you carry the complex and frequently taxing role of coaching.

Effective body language and good listening skills are crucial besides understanding the aspects of the conflict itself, which can be negative and positive by the way. Coaches have to become more cognisant of their own leadership style in order to deal with conflicts successfully. They should take one of the available surveys online to learn about and identify their personal leadership style.

Definition of Conflict

…Conflict that is poorly handled can result in deteriorating relationships that negatively affect the team, athletes’ ability to train effectively and achieve important goals or your ability to function effectively as their coach (Managing Conflict, NCCP Reference Manual, p. 2)… 



…Conflict arises from one or several issues. If these are not dealt with effectively, they will become problems. If these are not solved, conflict arises. Whenever there is a conflict, there is some level of difference in the position of two or more parties. However, the true disagreement and the perceived disagreement may be quite different. Significant levels of misunderstanding usually occur in any conflict that exaggerates a perceived disagreement. In order to solve the problem, one has to understand the true sources of the disagreement (Managing Conflict, NCCP Reference Manual, p. 5)… 

Parties Involved

…There are simple conflicts involving two people but conflict can spread quickly within most groups to include others (example: one parent complains and several others ‘gang’ up on the coach) or people who are part of the team (team members), family, school, or club association, etc., who may not necessarily see themselves as part of the conflict readily take sides based on their perception of the issues, relationships, and roles in the situation. Sometimes, it is difficult to understand and know who’s involved in the conflict (Managing Conflict, NCCP Reference Manual, p. 5)…

Perceived Threats

…Conflict is more than a disagreement. It is a situation in which people perceive a threat to their well-being – physical, emotional, power, status, etc. Participants in conflict respond more on the basis of their perception of the situation than on objective review. People filter their perceptions through their values, culture, experience, gender, and other factors. Finding real solutions requires us to dig through to uncover the true issues. Although there are a lot of perceptions with any conflict, it is essential to recognize that conflict is a real experience for anyone involved (Managing Conflict, NCCP Reference Manual, p. 5)…

Needs, Interests, or Concerns

…The conflicts involve ongoing relationships and complex emotions. It is tempting to try to solve the immediate critical event. However, a long-lasting resolution requires moving beyond immediate solutions to address longer-term interests and concerns of those involved (Managing Conflict, NCCP Reference Manual, p. 5)…

Conflict Resolution – Multi-aspect Process 

Coaches need to be Great Listeners

Researchers point out that coaches are some of the ‘worst’ listeners even though ‘listening’ is 50% of effective communication (Schloder, 2010). I have also found that the best coaches not only speak effectively but also are outstanding listeners.

There are 3 major points to consider in communication:

  • Listen effectively by the way you look at the person you are speaking with 
  • Don’t let your Ego get in the way of the conversation
  • Be open to the idea that how the athlete (parent, coaching staff) feels both emotionally & physically matters

*Note: Be sure to read in the upcoming July Newsletter about: “Body Language in Coaching: A Tool for Effective Communication” (presented at the ASCA World Swim Clinic, 2010)

  • Gather all facts (not gossip or hearsay) and details of complaint[s]
  • Schedule meeting with complainer in a neutral location with a positive environment (coaches’ office may be intimidating and/or distracting [pictures, trophies, etc.]; avoid talking to the athlete at an uncomfortable location (example: swimmer at pool site sitting in a wet swimsuit or cold or windy area)
  • Let the person talk first to present their complaint
  • Listen with empathy, show compassion and interest with your body language (example: leaning forward; nodding your head; using compassionate words, such as I see; I understand)
  • Take notes for review
  • State and rephrase what you hear
  • Re-iterate from your notes to confirm if the statements are correct
  • When asking questions, avoid using ‘WHY’ because the person feels challenged and becomes defensive – instead use: you make this statement because – the person now has to explain and be more analytical
  • State your case – Listen – Tell – Ask in an assertive manner
    • State in a straightforward manner when you are angry or upset with the situation or someone’s action 
    • Focus on the issue, not the personality
    • Allow sufficient time for the other person to talk about their feelings
    • Actions and gestures, like words, to express your assertiveness
    • Speak effectively and speak for yourself
    • Think before you react
    • Acknowledge that the other person may be right
    • Avoid using your listening time to interpret why the other person feels or thinks the way they do
    • Pay attention to your and the other person’s body language
    • Acknowledge others’ feelings in a straightforward manner
    • Pay attention to questions that are really statements not questions (Managing Conflict, NCCP Reference Manual, pp. 17-24)…
  • You may not be able to solve the conflict in one session
  • It is Ok to delay and think about various solutions
  • It is Ok to seek advice from others or experts to assist in the process


Lightbown, T. (2019, July 4). Coaches vs parents: How to build positive relationships in any sport. The COACHES BITE. Retrieved May 11, 2020, from https://thecoachessite.com/coaches-vs-parents-how-to-build-positive-relationships-in-any-sport/

M1MAXONE (n.d.). 3 Reasons why & how coaches need to be great listeners. Retrieved May 11, 2020, from https://maxone.ai/coaches-resources/3-reasons-coaches-need-great-listeners/

Monroe, M. (2017, September 13). Building positive relationships with sports parents. COACH & A.D. Retrieved May 10, 2020, from https://coachad.com/articles/building-positive-relationships-with-sports-parents/

Robert, M. (1982). Managing conflict from the inside out. San Diego, CA: Pfeiffer & Co. 

Schloder, M.E. (2018). Personal Property: Annual Plan; Daily Training Plans; Psychological Questionnaires. Calgary, AB, Canada: Arête Sports/Kalos Swim Division.

Schloder, M.E. (2018). Lecture Series: Managing Conflict. National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP). Ottawa, ON, Canada: Coaching Association of Canada.

Schloder, M.E. (2010). Body language in coaching: A tool for effective communication. Indianapolis, IN: ASCA World Clinic in Swimming. August 30-September 5.

Tip of the Month – April 2020

Coach Monika Says…

Nutrition Strategies during “Shut Down” and Lack of Training

These are ‘hard times’ for regular folks and especially athletes, who are in important training phases! The required ‘shutdown,’ social distancing and isolation at home are big challenges for all active athletes and specifically those training toward regional and national championships, or trying to qualify for the 2020 Olympic games (postponed until 2021). All competitive events, tournaments (Wimbledon), and Games (NHL Stanley Cup), etc. and International soccer matches have been either suspended or postponed indefinitely.

Elite Athletes

These athletes consume a higher caloric intake during training periods. Therefore, being ‘forced’ to stay at home (incarceration) has several unique issues. Idle and without a regular workout routine, they need to get ‘creative’ to remain fit but also become disciplined in order to avoid falling into the ‘eating trap.’ Researchers show that many athletes in their post-career life tend to continue to eat the same amount of food as previously while training and they usually end up with a heavy weight gain! So, if 4000 to 6000 calories were consumed daily, they should consult with a sport nutritionist or seek nutrition guidelines to establish their intake during reduced training. It is recommended to design an exercise chart with daily dates. Figure out the calories needed and then establish the daily food intake.

Younger Athletes 

The ‘picky eater syndrome’ may become more apparent because athletes are ‘stuck’ at home, snacking, and may become more ‘finicky’ in their food choices. During normal days rushing to the training facility, field, competition or games parents tend to hurry their athletes home, and then less attention is possibly paid to eating habits, especially at night after practice. 

How do you fuel a ‘picky’ eater? Here are some suggestions:

Reference – Modified: TrueSport (2019). Retrieved April 2, 2020, from TrueSport (2019). Retrieved April 2, 2020 from, http://learn.truesport.org/fuel-picky-eater/

List of ‘Acceptable’ Options

Most ‘picky eaters’ have certain food staples, like chicken nuggets or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches but are risking a bad eating habit because of the unhealthy amount of sugar. Due to limited and ultra-processed menus, they can potentially end up missing out on key macro- and micronutrients like protein and fibre as well as vitamins and minerals. Parents should find a few options that resemble the usual ‘go-to foods’ while still providing the needed nutrients. For example, instead of tortilla chips after a game or competition bring along kale chips or another vegetable chip that is still salty but also provides some nutrients. Parents should make sure that those healthier options your athlete is willing to eat are always available – you might think it sounds like a boring menu but healthy alternatives provide adequate amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates as well as certain vitamins and minerals.

Giving the Athlete Control

Have the athlete assist in preparing the food, which tends to improve eating habits; have them try new flavours. Start by cooking dishes that they like and gradually try to shift to more nutrient-dense options. As well, include the athlete in meal planning and explain that every meal needs to contain vegetable choices, protein sources, carbohydrates, and healthy fat. If your athlete loves pizza, for example, experiment making one with a whole-wheat crust, adding real tomatoes to the sauce, and swapping out toppings like pepperoni for lean, protein-packed chicken. Top with the vegetables that they are willing to eat!

 Show – Don’t Tell

TrueSport Kristen Ziesmer, a registered dietician and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, suggests that parents need to set examples. “If parents aren’t eating well, then there’s no way the kids will. If the parents are struggling with their diet or don’t know how to eat properly, work with a registered dietician. If cooking is a problem, try to attend a local cooking class with your athlete.” Athletes should eat plenty of vegetables and lean proteins with appropriate carbohydrate and fat sources. Show your athlete what a balanced plate looks like (nutrition pictures, food guide, or demonstrate the portion and combination on a plate). Researchers indicate that simple exposure to healthy foods can entice an athlete to be more inclined to try them.

Make Food Easily Available

Under-eating may become an issue for ‘picky eaters’ because they aren’t willing to consume healthy available options. Have a designated spot in the kitchen (and a bag in the car is handy) with your athlete’s ‘approved stash’ of healthy snacks. Changing the environment has a major impact on diet healthiness. Have a fruit bowl on the counter. Keep cut-up fruits and veggies in clear containers in the fridge at eye-level and in the front of the fridge. Package leftovers in individual containers, easy to grab, and heat. Store cupboards full of healthy options for easy reach: baked root vegetable chips, dried fruit, natural peanut butter, whole wheat bread, whole-grain crackers, dehydrated cheese ‘crackers,’ whole grain granola bars, or fruit and nut bars, for example. The primary goal of having an easy spot for your athlete to grab a snack is to ensure that their ‘picky’ nature never prevents them from fuelling properly.

Pack in the Nutrition

If your ‘picky eater’ is willing to drink a fruit smoothie, add plain Greek yogurt, etc. to provide protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Add a small handful of spinach, which is a nutrient-dense powerhouse food, also easy to ‘sneak’ into stews and sauces without altering the taste or texture. Small seeds like chia and flaxseed provide key micronutrients and fibre, which can also be easily ‘slipped’ into smoothies, cereal, or peanut butter and jam sandwiches. Swap white bread for a whole grain option, adding a dark leafy green instead of iceberg lettuce on a sandwich or some vegetables as pizza toppings.

Watch for Patterns of Eating Disorder 

The darker side of ‘picky eating’ can be the attempt to mask orthorexia* or another eating disorder, especially in teen athletes, who may be struggling with body image issues in sport. In fact, several years ago, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) became a clinical diagnosis for more serious cases of ‘picky eating.’

* Orthorexia is the term for a condition that includes symptoms of obsessive behaviour in pursuit of a healthy diet. Afflicted athletes often display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders.

‘Picky eating’ has been shown to coincide with serious childhood issues such as depression and anxiety that may require expert intervention. Therefore, pay attention to other symptoms your athlete is displaying as well as a sudden change in weight. This might look like the athlete is showing more interest in eliminating specific foods from their diets or trying one trendy diet after another. According to Ziesmer (2019), it is not wise to set limitations on a particular food like banning candy. That can put a stigma around that food, and the child then becomes hyper-focused on that particular food (craving it and cheating!). It is important to encourage healthy foods, healthy practices, and parental role modeling to help prevent eating disorders.”

Let Us Not Forget:

Sports did not get canceled – Group practice, training, competitions, and games did. It is not an excuse to stop!

Athletes Can:

  • Train hard at home – be creative in workouts
  • Study films and video
  • Connect with teammates for support
  • Read and grow their knowledge base
  • Let the season not be sacrificed and wasted by stopping on what You Can Do (Kate Leavell)


Holwegner A (2020, April 2). SoundBites. COVID-19 nutrition: Coronavirus home eating guide Retrieved April 4, 2020, from, https://www.healthstandnutrition.com/covid-19-nutrition-guide/ ?inf_contact_key=8c6d52d51276e86996874a5615b0e436 

TrueSport (2019). Retrieved April 2, 2020, from http://learn.truesport.org/fuel-picky-eater/

Why Us ?

Shape Young Athletes
By Having FUN!


Physical Literacy For Children And Youth
Through Fun, Fitness And Fundamentals

Available NOW! – Instant Download or 2-Disk Set

Watch the preview video below!

You will be astonished over the athletic accomplishments of these young athletes’ strength, flexibility, balance, etc.

Click here to purchase your copy today!

 Dr. Monika Schloder Welcomes You To The Home of CoachingBest

Your one-stop for Coaching Tips, Training, and Information for the Athletic Coach

Years of teaching and coaching experience in several sports have provided me with the ability to understand the physical, mental, and emotional requirements for developing beginner to elite level athlete in several sports. The ‘knack’ to analyze sport movement, in essence, detect errors and then develop creative corrections and drills to improve, maximize, and optimize performance – no matter the sport – is one of my greatest assets.

Dr. Monika Scloder, Summer Swim Camp- Turku, Finland

Professional Activities:

  • DVD Production: Swimming; Developing Physical Literacy; Athletic Training
  • Learning Facilitator, Canadian National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP), having educated nationally and internationally over 26,000 coaches to date
  • Certified Alberta NCCP Coach Developer (2016)
  • Speaker at International Congresses, Coaching Symposiums, and World Clinics
  • Master Coach in Residence, 1991-2004, for the Los Angeles based 84 Legacy of the Games (former Amateur Athletic Foundation or AAF), program developer for Inner City Minority Youth Education and Leadership
  • Author: Coaching Manuals in Swimming and Soccer
  • Co-author “Coaching Athletes: A Foundation for Success”


  • Alberta 2008 Coach of the Year
  • Recipient of 14 International Teaching and Coaching Awards
  • 3M Teaching Fellowship Award for Outstanding Teaching at Canadian Universities
  • Recipient of numerous Teaching Excellence Awards, University of Calgary

At CoachingBest.com we offer sport consulting and coaching education to organizations worldwide with an emphasis on current issues, physical literacy, athlete development, performance analysis, and improvement

Visit our Website CoachingBest.com for ‘Tips of the Week’ and sign up for the free Monthly Newsletter

Dr. Schloder has developed a series of Training DVD’s to help Coaches and Athletes
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ASCA Workshop Conference and Presentation

Happenings from November

With Coach Rebecca Atchley – Dr. Schloder was an External Committee Member for Rebeca’s Masters Project Dr. Schloder’s Workshop Presentation

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Conference Photos

Happenings from September

Latest Happenings!!

 Dr. Monika Schloder at the ASCA World Clinic for Swimming, Jacksonville, Florida, Sept 8, 2014 Presenting at the 4-hour Work shop “Dry-land School for Age Group Swimmers” Coaches participate in her workshops… they don’t just sit!

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Back Arch Demo

Coach Schloder in Istanbul, Turkey Swim Camp , June 9-15

Underneath the swimmer to demonstrate the back arch position after the Back Crawl start. Not too many coaches can do this perfectly!

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Developing Physical Literacy

This highly acclaimed presentation was given by Dr. Schloder at the Canadian Sport for Life Summit (CS4L), which will be available as a movie version. Watch for the up-coming DVD: ‘Physical Activities for Children and Youth. Fundamental Movement Skills in the Pursuit of Excellence and Well-being.’

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  1. Augusto Acosta

    I love your work!

  2. Kim Cox

    Super new front page on your website, very informative.

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Tip of the Month – June 2020

Coach Monika Says… Setting Performance Goals for the 2020-2021 Season It is proper timing at this point for athletes to establish performance goals for the upcoming 2020-2021 season since sports programs are not operating at the present.  Coaches: Send Questionnaire to athletes ages 13 years and older because they are old enough to understand the …

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Body Language in Coaching: A Tool for Effective Communication

Note: The plan was to continue the Series “The Dirty – Not-so-little Secret in Coaching’ – abuse in sports but I spent over 6-weeks gathering the research. It turned out to be too lengthy and actually colossal – although the story must be told to raise greater awareness at all levels of sport. However, I …

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