Do your sports kids hate to make mistakes? Do they kick themselves over and over after a turnover, bad pass or loss?
Worse, do they start playing tentatively, rather than giving it their all? Are you wondering how you can possibly help them change their attitude about losses, mistakes and other setbacks?
It’s common for kids to berate themselves after making mistakes. Too often, they hold onto mistakes and other setbacks—such as getting yelled at by a coach, having a bad game or getting a bad call from a ref.
They dwell on these setbacks, rather than letting them go and moving onto the next play.
Dwelling on setbacks and mistakes lowers kids’ confidence and hurts their performance. Why? They start to avoid making mistakes, they start playing “safe,” they stop taking the essential risks that help them play well and grow as players.
But here’s the good news: You as sports parents and coaches can help kids cope with setbacks. You can teach them how to remain confident and how to “go for it” when they’re tempted to step back and play it safe.
First of all, remind your young athletes that if they experienced no mistakes or setbacks, they likely wouldn’t learn as much…
We like to say that if ice skaters don’t fall down, they’re not learning. Falling down shows they’re trying out new things. It’s true of any sport. Kids need to try out new strategies and moves, make mistakes and learn and grow from them.
Let’s say your sports kid makes a bad judgement before making a pass. He assumes that his teammate will be in a certain position and place, but doesn’t communicate to the team-mate that he plans to pass to him. He passes, and the pass doesn’t make it to the player.
He can yell at himself, tell himself he’s a horrible passer, and stop passing. Or he can think about what went wrong and try again. For example. he might decide that this time he needs to communicate better with his teammate.
Obviously, you want your sports kids to embrace the second mindset. Figure out what went wrong and try again.
Sometimes kids don’t have time to think about a mistake and figure out what went wrong. In that case, they need to make a mental note of it so they can figure out what went wrong after the game.
It’s critical, however, to let go of the goof-up and move on. They need to focus on the next shot, pass, pitch or play as soon as possible.
As sports parents and coaches, you can help your kids stay confident by helping them understand that they will make some mistakes. It’s part of being human and part of being in sports.
You can also help them process mistakes so they don’t dwell on them and become frustrated. You can do this by helping them let go of the idea that they have to be perfect and should not make any mistakes.
Tell your kids that the sooner they can let go of mistakes or setbacks, the sooner they can move on and contribute to the team.
Want to learn more about how to be Ultimate Sports Parents and help your kids make the most of their talent? At Kids’ Sports Psychology, we have many resources for you. For example, exclusive members of Kids’ Sports Psychology can download this e-book, for their kids, for free:
“Growing from Adversity: How to Stay Confident After Failure.”
You and your sports kids can find many articles, audios, e-books, and videos about this and other topics. For example:
–> “Dealing with Mistakes,” audio and video interviews with Positive Coaching Alliance trainer Bruce Kracke.
–> Q And A: How do I help my daughter gain confidence?
–> “Twelve Pre-game Mental Strategies to Help Athletes Trust in Their Skills,” an e-book.
What are people saying about our resources? We’re glad to receive all the great feedback that comes our way. Just this week, Jennifer, a sports mom, told us,
“I’ve learned by reading your emails and listening to your podcast that some of my son’s perfectionism comes from my high expectations. I need to work on myself when I’m sitting in the stands.”
Improve your sports parenting skills and help your kids make the most of their sports experience!
Exclusive members of Kids’ Sports Psychology can access out e-book for kids, “Growing from Adversity: How to Stay Confident After Failure” by clicking here:
Lisa Cohn and Dr. Patrick Cohn
P.S. If you’re a Kids’ Sports Psychology member you can also receive 30 percent off on most of our popular programs for parents and their athletes, such as “The Composed Sports Kid” CD and Workbook program: