“Is There a Reason You’re Not Giving 100% Right Now?”

I love hanging out with good coaches… doesn’t matter what sport. I love sharing insights, watching them in action, and learning from the way they interact with their athletes.

In 2015 I had a conversation with a coach that changed my outlook forever, and got me started down a road I had never considered before. And this guy wasn’t even a hockey coach!

The conversation was with my good friend, and NCAA baseball coach, Derek Waddoups.

If you’re a member of my International Coaching Symposium, you’ll know him from Session 14 on Leadership and Developing a Competitive Mindset.

Derek is a stud, and is like a brother to me. Our sons have been best friends for years, and Derek and I alternate back and forth between being each other’s assistant coaches in whichever sports our boys play together (hockey, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc.)

Because we’ve coached together in so many different capacities, we’ve had the chance to talk “development philosophy” a lot.

One time there was a player who wasn’t giving a full effort on the ice (it was hockey, so Derek was my assistant in this case).

I said “Look at Johnny… he’s going 50% again…”

I had already gotten after this player multiple times that practice to try and encourage him to work his hardest, and it just wasn’t happening.

Derek said “watch this…”

Then he went over to Johnny and quietly said something in his ear… and skated away.

Johnny went 100% the rest of practice.

Of course… I was blown away!

“What did you say to him?” I asked…

Derek smiled, and said “I asked him if there was a reason he wasn’t going 100%… then I skated away before he could answer.”

Of course… I asked him why that worked.

In that moment Derek taught me the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. And it started me on a path to more effective coaching… and a coaching style I’m continuing to develop.

I’m going to let you watch Derek explain this concept in his own words with this brief snippet from his session in our International Coaching Symposium:

Coaching with Questions

So… we want our athletes to learn the game for themselves, and be self motivated to achieve excellence…


Over the past few seasons, I have continued experimenting with this concept… not just for motivation and work ethic, but for learning to think the game better as well.

I have noticed my players becoming more self aware on the ice, and making better decisions in games and practices. It’s awesome!

Here are a few of the questions I ask my players on a regular basis:

  1. What do you think could make you successful in this drill?
  2. What could you do to make yourself more competitive in this situation?
  3. What new things did you learn today?
  4. Did you learn anything new, or remember anything you already knew?
  5. What was your favorite drill today? Why? Who else liked that drill? Did anyone like a different drill?
  6. Describe the difference you experienced when you changed _________________ ?
  7. Why were you able to knock down a bigger player?
  8. What advice would you give a teammate who is struggling with ___________________ ?
  9. How did you find your linemate on the back door? What made you think he/she would be there?
  10. What things went well today? How can we improve for next time?

This list should get you started… but I know there’s still much more that could be added.

What would you add? How have you helped inspire your athletes with questions?

Let’s build a list in the comments below!


PS – If you try this out, let me know. I’ve found it to take some time to get comfortable with, but that it is SUPER effective!

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