Children who perform well in practice but falter during competitions are familiar. Parents and coaches may find this to be frustrating and unclear. What thoughts are going through the child athlete’s head, and what can sports coaches and parents do to help?
First and foremost, sports parents and coaches should teach young athletes that they are responsible for their confidence and future. Kids lose confidence if they start a game needing instant gratification (such as scoring the game’s first hit or basket).
Young athletes must be reminded that they have spent years preparing to build confidence. Don’t let your concern for getting results right away cause them to lose confidence! What you can tell them is as follows:
Expert youth coaches educate pupils about two mindsets that help athletes succeed through mental toughness training. The mindset of practice or training comes first. Good athletes understand the importance of training. They work hard to improve and get better. They are highly driven and have a strong work ethic, which encourages them to put in a lot of practice time to become experts in their fields.
Let Go of Fear
Even though you can get hurt physically in some sports, like hockey, the majority of fears that athletes have in sports are not related to danger or self-harm. The anxiety I’m referring to is a psychological danger that frequently arises from an athlete’s impression of the significance of a performance or game and what other people will think of it.
Usually, an athlete’s fear is anxiety about getting bad results, either before or during a performance. Athletes frequently fear the adverse effects of their performance. They are concerned about numerous issues that are frequently out of their control.
Only when failure is not acknowledged or treated as a teaching opportunity does it undermine confidence. Young athletes can learn to analyze failures with the support of their parents and coaches, allowing them to recognize their strengths and spot areas for development.
People acquire and grow in confidence as a result of their experiences. Parents and coaches can assist young athletes in becoming self-assured and prosperous adults by modeling the above behaviors.
Learning how to execute effectively rather than precisely is a topic I stress to my students. It’s a “functional attitude,” in my opinion.
The antithesis of attempting to make everything perfect is having a functional mindset. It begins with the notion that your athletes DO NOT need to be flawless to perform to their highest potential. Because they are human, they cannot be perfect. You and your athletes must recognize that your athletes will make mistakes. Brad Gilbert, a professional tennis player’s coach, called the functional attitude “winning ugly” and authored a book about it.
Your athletes will be better able to fully immerse themselves in their performance—a crucial component of being in the zone or developing a zone focus—once they have defined performance cues and can recognize irrelevant cues or distractions. Thinking about missing a last shot or what the coach could do if you lose the puck are unimportant cues or distractions.
Any new skill requires time to develop. Whether your athletes are learning physical or mental skills makes no difference—repetition and application are required to make it a standard component of practice and performance. Helping your players commit to strengthening their mental fortitude (even when they are performing well) will result in a consistent mental approach and performance in any circumstance, including tryouts.
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