If some kids make mistakes during a game, they still get to be starters in the next game. However, if her daughter makes the same mistakes, she doesn’t get to start.
Of course, this seems unfair to the young athlete—and it causes her to worry about making mistakes, which hurts her performance.
“This is hard for her (not to mention her dad and I) and I need to help her redirect her focus,” writes the sports mom. “I just don’t know how.”
This young athlete is dealing with two classic confidence busters:
(1) First of all, she worries about making mistakes,
(2) She’ll likely will make her play tentatively. Rather than “going for it,” she likely is stiff and plays to avoid making mistakes.
This will hurt her performance—and her confidence. Instead, she needs to perform in the moment—rather than thinking ahead to what she might do wrong. To do this, she can establish small, positive goals that will help her focus on performing well.
Second, the basketball player compares herself to other players–which is a mental-game no-no. When kids focus on others’ strengths or how others are treated by the coach, they’re focusing on the wrong thing. They need to focus on their own strengths and abilities.
Think about it. Do you want your young athletes to tell themselves: (1) “Look at how quick that point guard is. She never drops the ball. It’s going to be hard to compete against her.”
Or (2) do you want them telling themselves, “I’ve got a strong mental game, a great team, and I’m tall and quick on my feet.”
You guessed it! The answer is Number Two!
This young athlete also needs to understand what she can and can’t control. She can’t control her coach or what he’s thinking or doing. She can control her own actions.
Want to learn how to boost kids’ confidence in sports—and life?
Check out our program, “The Confident Sports Kid: A 7-Day Plan for Boosting Self-Confidence in Young Athletes.”
This program includes a CD and manual for parents/coaches and a CD/manual for sports kids.
It teaches young athletes how to identify their confidence busters, proactively deal with them, manage their expectations, address fear of failure, and learn how to stay confident when faced with adversity–challenges like favoritism in sports.
The program gives sports parent specific tips about how to talk to their sports parents in ways that boost their confidence. It provides some warnings about communication and behavior parents should avoid—and advice about steps they can take to improve their sports parenting skills.
Check it out here:
What do folks say about our resources?
“Thanks for your precious time in producing this website”
–sports mom, writing about our youth sports psychology blog
Help your kids make the most of their talents and their sports experience!
Lisa Cohn and Patrick Cohn, Ph.D.
P.S. Want to learn about the top confidence busters for sports kids and how to help kids deal with them? Download the first chapter of the kids’ workbook that includes a confidence assessment on this page: