Sample Book Review Paper on Psychology of Coaching: Mistakes worth Making Book Review

Halden-Brown presents a unique way of dealing with mistakes in her book mistakes worth making. According to her, making mistakes is normal but coaches can utilize the mistakes made by players in training athletes both mentally and physically.Teaching about resilience enhances the ability to accept errors and use of the mistakes in optimizing performance (Halden-Brown, 2003). It is useful for coaches to let athletes acknowledge that mistakes are part of the learning process. In order to become competent in sports world, athletes must accept mistakes they encounter in their day-to-day activities. However, mistakes can be upsetting especially where every move counts. The book helps readers understand how to handle mistakes during and after the competition in order to achieve success. The author subdivides mistakes worth making book into three identifiable parts. Part one consists of chapter one up to chapter five where the author allows the audience to rethink the role of mistakes in sporting arena. Part two deals with excellence in performance and covers chapter six up to chapter thirteen. Part three is the last one where the author indicates how mistakes can be turned into a competitive advantage through factors such as motivation and building players’ confidence (Halden-Brown, 2002). Part three covers chapter fourteen up to chapter nineteen. The Author’s main focus is the application of four principles of humanistic and psychology of coaching related to personal growth and values, self-concept, affect, and communication. By emphasizing the four concepts, coaches are sure of accomplishing greater success both in the short and in the long-run. The author targets both the upcoming coaches and athletes as her main readers of the book.

Author’s Main Arguments, Assumptions and Evidence for Supporting
Role of Communication in handling mistakes

Communication is one of the greatest aspects in the psychology of coaching. It includes paying attention to human relations, interpersonal skills, conflict resolution and constructive communication. Coaches should remain real and approachable by athletes so that they know what athletes have to say. Athletes are comfortable when they have listening and coach with who they can establish a close relationship with (Halden-Brown, 2003). Taking some time from the daily routine to communicate with athletes a few minutes before they start practice provides them with an opportunity to speak about their personal experiences and other important issues relate to their career. Coaches need to arrange goal-setting meetings and team sessions that allow the athletes to communicate among themselves. Such sessions will allow the athletes to discuss issues affecting them such as supporting one another in and out of practice. Conflicts are part and parcel of the sporting world regardless of how effective the coach is or how excellent the athletes are. Conflicts must be encountered at some point in the team and the quicker the couch resolves them, the sooner the team moves forward. Conflicts may arise between two teammates, between the coach or assistant coach and a player, between the assistant coaches or between the coach and his assistants (Halden-Brown, 2003). The coach and the athletes need to be ready and trained to handle conflicts in the most effective manner. Communication helps the couch as well as the athletes in listening and understanding other individuals’ experiences. The coach should act as the mediator and facilitator of conflict resolution within the team.

Importance of Personal values in overcoming mistakes

The author emphasizes the importance of paying attention to personal values, growth, and development as part of psychology of coaching (Halden-Brown, 2002). To be effective, coaches have to be thoroughly aware of the values they teach at all times. Consequently, coaches have to be conscious of incorporating positive values into their teaching program and eliminating the negative ones to avoid inadvertently teaching the athletes. To promote personal growth and development, coaches have to show athletes ways of discovering their personal values. Examples of personal values to be included in the teaching program include accepting personal mistakes and remaining self-worth at the same time. Others include putting more value on performance and effort than winning. One great personal value coaches should not forget to teach athletes is being personally responsible. Personal responsibility allows the athletes to become autonomous by taking control and responsibility over their own lives (Halden-Brown, 2002). Coaches can nurture athletes’ ability to become personally responsible in numerous ways. They include helping athletes set their own objectives and look for strategies for accomplishing the set goals. In addition, coaches could help athletes in establishing internal locus to enable them attain success. With a locus of control, athletes believe they have control over the outcomes in various events. Ability to solve personal problems as and when they arise is part of personal values that athletes need to be taught about. Instead of focusing on solving the problem for the athlete, couches should enhance the athlete’s ability to solve the problem on their own.

Affect Principle as part of the psychology of coaching

According to Halden-Brown (2003), emphasizing effect implies relying more on feeling and thinking instead of acquiring particular information or skills. Setting an effective objectives is the initial step that allows coaches to make a conscious commitment of integrating humanism into their coaching program. The author cites examples of affective objectives such as leading and encouraging athletes to demonstrate love for themselves, concern for their teammates, and love for their careers (Llewellyn & Blucker, 2000). Other affective goals include acting as a role model to others and working towards becoming a more complete athlete. Coaches need to demonstrate genuine concern for athletes by frequently asking them how they are feeling. Listening to their concerns and becoming sensitive to their emotions is an excellent way of understanding them better. Stressing the importance of thinking and learning techniques helps the athletes become better learners. Coaches can for instance have the athlete’s review information on drills mentally during, before and after practicing in order to boost their learning abilities. Athletes have a tendency of leaving practice and never thinking about it anymore. Coaches can help athletes to improve their ability to organize and review information effectively.

Self-concept principle

Developing a positive self-concept is the main focus in part three of the book. The author introduces self-concept by letting the audience acknowledge the importance of interaction. Athletes develop self-concept depending on how the coach interacts and communicates with them as human beings (Llewellyn & Blucker, 2000). Coaches are in a position of facilitating athletes’ ability to develop positive concept in several ways including having a positive perception and expectations. Notions that coaches hold towards the athletes unconsciously help in building positive concept. The coach need to be careful of uttering some statements such as telling a certain athlete that he cannot make it in a certain competition. Telling athletes to remain optimistic can have positive impacts on building morale of athletes and helping them get the best out of a competition. Communicating the positive expectations and perceptions in words and action is part of self-concept and an important ingredient of effective coaching (Halden-Brown, 2003). Consequently, coaches need to take time to communicate to the athletes about what they think about them. An effective coach for instance will tell an athlete that he/she did not manage this time he/she will certainly make it during the next competition. Also, coaches should demonstrate confidence in their teams through communication and actions. For instance coach could tell athletes that they are capable of becoming champions if they put a little effort in practice. Being an effective coach implies being genuine to your athletes so that your internal feelings and actions match. Always letting your team know the way you feel during, after and before a certain competition.

In order to remain accommodative to the athletes, coaches need to show athletes that they are valued and capable of accomplishing virtually everything. Coaches who disinvite athletes show them that they are undirected, worthless and incapable. Positive self-concept is built in athletes if coaches learn to promote success instead of failure. Promoting success also involves the implementation of mastery learning concept that holds that all learners are capable of learning. The difference only is the amount of time taken to learn. Effective coaching aims at helping athletes to master several skills for a certain sport at the shortest time possible (Llewellyn & Blucker, 2000). Coaches need to understand that mastery learning involves learning a certain skill to a given level of proficiency before proceeding to another skill. For instance, if the coach breaks down a given skill into small units, all athletes are supposed to master each unit before they proceed to the next one. Although it is time-consuming to both the coach and his team as all athletes have to become proficient, it is worth in the subsequent competitions and the overall athlete’s career.

Major strengths and weaknesses of the Author

Susan Halden-Brown is an accredited Australian sport psychologist, educator, coach and examiner with both the national and international athletes participating in Olympic and other major tournaments. She holds a Bachelor of Science in sports from Canberra University. Her strength in composing mistakes worth making book lies in her ability to perceive errors in the sports arena and bounce them back positively (Halden-Brown, 2003). The book is organized in a logical manner and her ideas flow well. She attracts the attention of coaches and athletes by demonstrating how mistakes are capable of leading to the development of new tactics, techniques and strategies. Being professionally trained as a coach allows her to support her arguments with tangible evidence. Readers and the audience of the book have no doubt whatsoever in her piece of writing due to her expertise in the psychology of coaching and experience.

A major weakness of the author is that the book is based on assumptions. She assumes that effective coaching takes place only when coaches adhere to the four principles of effective coaching; self-concept, communication, affect and personal values. She overlooks minor factors and limits her audience to the four major principles (Halden-Brown, 2002). In reality, the four major concepts are like a drop in the ocean in psychology coaching and in the overall sporting arena.

Personal Response to the Author

In my view, mistakes worth making book is not only interesting but worth reading. It is one of those books that every upcoming coaches and athletes should take time to read. It is informative in all aspects.


Halden-Brown, S. (2002). Mistakes worth making. Champaign, Ill: Human Kinetics.

Halden-Brown, S. (2003). Mistakes worth making: How to turn sports errors into athletic excellence. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Llewellyn, J. H., & Blucker, J. A. (2000). Psychology of coaching: Theory and application. Minneapolis, Minn: Burgess Pub. Co.