How Changing Your Questions Can Help Change Your Outcome

Posted by Cindy Bristow on Mar 14th 2019

questions change outcome judgmental judgment curious curiosity answers

Struggling players ask questions all the time, so make sure they’re the right kind.

Questions fall into two categories – and only one is helpful.

You’ve all heard them before – questions players ask when they’re struggling. Questions such as “what’s wrong with me?”,why do I keep doing this?”, or “how come I can’t get it right?”

All these questions, while valid, aren’t helpful.

Questions fall into 2 categories; Judgmental and Curiosity. Judgmental questions are the ones listed above. They don’t give you any helpful or useful answers, and instead imply judgment. These types of questions make you feel even worse for having asked them and they help you perpetuate whatever it is that’s making you frustrated.

On the other hand, Curiosity questions cause you to unpack the problem and arrive at an answer, or the cause.

Let’s take a pitcher who throws a riseball that’s too low. As soon as the pitch isn’t what she intended, it’s question time:

  • Judgmental Questions would sound like:
    • “What’s wrong with me?”
    • “Why do I keep doing this again?”
    • “How come I can’t do this right?”
  • Curiosity Questions would sound like:
    • “What did my hand do that caused the ball to go low?”
    • “Would changing my pressure at release give me more twist?”
    • “Did I release too far back for that location?”

Judgmental questions do just that – they pour judgment onto the asker. You make a bad pitch (or play or swing) and you feel bad enough, but then you start bombing your brain with Judgmental questions and you feel HORRIBLE. You cannot play great feeling horrible! Plus, these questions give you no helpful answers what so ever.

Curiosity questions, on the other hand, are asked specifically to get helpful information and answers. By asking; “Did I release too far back for that location?” you can quickly explore solutions and be ready to apply them, immediately.

Judgment questions are not intended to give you answers. Instead, you’re simply piling blame on top of your own head making you feel worse, sucking out your much needed energy and making it harder and harder to improve the situation. Judgment questions become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Help your pitchers stop their mistake cycles by being aware of their own questions – ask Curiosity questions instead of Judgment questions. A player that is struggling needs solutions, not judgment. Have them start inside their own heads by reframing their own questions. It’s not easy, but over time, with gentle reminders, they can do it.

NOTE: It’s important that as coaches, we eliminate asking Judgment questions of our players. Check your own questions for signs of Judgment and switch to the Curiosity channel.