How to Avoid Pressuring Young Athletes
A sports parent asks:
“When should children be encouraged to push through the hard times and when is it okay for them to just take a break?”
At a certain point in your children’s athletic careers, all parents must ask themselves this question…
If you push your children too hard, you risk taking the fun out of the game for them, possibly prompting them to quit.
However, you want to encourage them to try their hardest when things get tough–to be resilient and not give up.
Pushing kids too hard at a young age will cause them to feel pressure, which can lead to under performance.
They’ll worry about what you as parents think instead of being in the moment and focusing on their immediate play.
They might second-guess themselves and avoid making mistakes, which will hurt their confidence.
Pressure is the main reason 70% of children quit sports by the age of 13!
If you don’t want your kids to join the ranks of the majority, be cautious about how you handle this situation.
First, you need to assess if your kids’ current coach or team is hurting their confidence in some way. If so, it makes sense to take a break or find a new team.
You don’t want your kids to lose confidence due to a bad coach or negative team culture.
If, however, your kids want to take a break because they are on a losing team, or don’t want to work so hard, or are afraid to take risks (out of fear of failure), you may want to encourage them to stick with it.
Encourage your kids to get out of their comfort zone and to overcome situations that are difficult—whether it’s a rainy season or a few tough games–this is a life lesson for them!
If they’re perfectionists, they may be afraid of failure. Help them identify high expectations and ask them to focus on what’s happening here-and-now, not on the score or their stats.
Give them a few “get out of jail” cards that make them feel more comfortable making mistakes.
Again, don’t pressure or punish them; just give them tips that will help them push through the hard times.
One great way to help kids enjoy sports more is to give them pregame strategies to boost their confidence.
That’s just what our new program, “10-Minute Pregame Prep,” does. You can check it out here:
Young athletes, their parents and coaches tell us that sports kids often struggle with these pregame mental game challenges:
- They feel pressure to excel from expectations they feel from others.
- They worry too much about what others think about their performance.
- They interpret pregame jitters as harmful to their performance.
- They fail to take charge of their confidence before the compete.
- They hang on to mistakes and dwell in them in competition.
- They don’t trust in their skills when they go from practice to competition.
- They focus too much on the outcome instead of the process.
- They tighten up and play safe when they feel pressure to succeed.
“10 Minute Pregame Prep” will tell you everything you need to know about ensuring your sports kids avoid classic mental game pitfalls before a game, learn how to trust their instincts, and just go for it. It provides lots of advice for you, too…
Parents ask us:
“I am more nervous than my son before games. How do I as a parent stay calm and not show I am nervous before games?”
“My challenge is not to talk too much about the upcoming games or what they need to do. I want to psych him up and encourage him but don’t want him to feel that he has to perform perfectly.”
“How do I support my athlete without putting more pressure on him?”