Spotlight Drill

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One of the three key ingredients for establishing confidence is speaking words of verbal encouragement. This simple strategy helps athletes focus on the positive they see in their teammates and verbalize it. It creates an atmosphere of joy, and as Dr. Duke taught in the Emotions video teaching, joy always elevates attitude and effort. For the kids in the "spotlight," it helps them to become less likely to evaluate their self-worth based on aspects of performance. Instead, it allows players to feel accepted by the community (team) and helps them establish an identity based on who they ARE, not merely what they DO.

Strategy Overview

After practice take one of your athletes and put her/him in the “Spotlight.” Ask individual members of the team to say the person’s name and tell the person in the Spotlight what they appreciate about her/him. It can be something they specifically did to help them personally, or an observation of how they helped someone else. Or, it can be a character attribute that they consistently demonstrate.


  1. Make sure the statement is directed TO the person and not ABOUT the person.
  2. Coach your athletes to look each other in the eye when delivering and receiving the statements.
  3. Coach athletes to be specific. When an athlete says “Jill, I appreciate the way you help people.” Ask them to be specific. For example, “Jill, I appreciate the ride home that you’ve given me when my mom wasn’t able to pick me up.”

This strategy produces an atmosphere of appreciation. A sense of value is given to those who don’t get the applause from playing time. This teaches the performers to see the value of those on the team who aren’t as skilled at in the first dimension. Remember, people don’t quit when they feel they have value.