Coaching with “Attitude”

By Raymond Prior

To get the most out of athletes, at any level, coaches must coach with the right attitude. Your attitude as a coach is far more important than any of the responsibilities you have as a coach. Quite simply, what you are asked to do as a coach is not as important as how you do it. The quality of your attitude drives every other component of your coaching tool box—from preparation and communication, to building trust with your athletes, to the lasting impact you have on character development. Do not underestimate the value of coaching with attitude because it will directly impact how your athletes think, feel, and ultimately act both on and off the field. 

When it comes to attitude, there is no middle ground. Your attitude as a coach is either holding your team back or empowering its progress. Sport is continually getting better. It does not wait for middle of the road effort or attitudes. Your team is either getting better or falling behind another team that is moving forward as you stand still. As a coach , your attitude will make or break your team because it sets the tone for how your team conducts itself day-to-day and how it handles both success and adversity.

However, it’s not easy to maintain a positive attitude. Things like losing, dealing with difficult people, and working with limited resources make it easy to have a destructive attitude. But the great part about attitude is that you can choose to change it at any time. With a firm commitment, you can get rid of a bad attitude and embrace a positive attitude and maintain that attitude with consistent effort to do so. Coaches who maintain positive and productive attitudes despite ever-changing situations and difficulties are a constant positive influence on their team and its individual members.

So how can you make sure you are coaching with a positive and productive attitude? Here are two ways to coach with attitude:

1) Challenge Yourself to a Month of Good Attitude

It takes about a month to create a habit. Challenge yourself to change your attitude for an entire month. Begin by taking note of the specific situations and people that are most difficult to maintain a good attitude. Be honest with yourself about what situations and which certain people tend to cause you to be negative.

Your challenge for the month is change your attitude in these situations and with these people. It won’t be easy and there is no magic trick. You simply have to make the commitment to choose a better attitude. Your team depends on it.

2) Coach Your Team Forward

Athletes want to be around coaches that are positive and enthusiastic. They want to play for coaches who are confident and empowering. One of the most important things successful coaches do is remain positive and coaching forward to what the team will accomplish next. When you coach, talk about what the team will accomplish today and practice or in the next game instead of talking about what it should accomplish. Conveying a “what-should-be-achieved” attitude gets “what-should-be-achieved” effort and results. A “what-will-be-achieved attitude” coaches athletes forward and gets optimistic effort and has a direct impact on your athletes’ confidence to execute, reactions to setbacks and mistakes, and overall commitment.

 Your attitude as a coach is contagious and will spread throughout your staff and your team. The only thing more contagious than a good attitude is a bad attitude. Thankfully, at any moment, you have the power to choose an attitude at any time to better lead your team.


Raymond Prior is one of the country’s top peak performance professionals, and has nearly a decade of experience educating athletes and coaches about building mental toughness. Prior works with athletes, teams, and coaches at professional, Olympic, NCAA, amateur, and youth sport levels. His clients include professional athletes, Olympic Gold Medalists, individual and team National Champions, National Coach of the Year Award winners, individual and team Conference Champions, and more than 100 NCAA All-Americans in a variety of sports.  For more information on Raymond’s consulting, visit, or contact him by email ( or phone (505-235-4486).