How to Help Sports Kids Be Self-Motivated
A sports parent asks:
“How can I help my son learn how to be self-motivated so that he can improve his tennis game?”
Dan Coyle, the author of “The Talent Code,” argues that you have to help your children by cultivating their passion.
Passion, he says, makes learning a quick and enjoyable experience.
Passionate, self-motivated sports kids play because they enjoy the experience.
They do not look for extrinsic rewards and do not need to be pushed to perform.
That means that pushing your kids into sports with the hope that it will create a passion is a huge mistake.
Likewise, “bribing” them by offering them something in return for their participation is unlikely to produce self-motivation.
Research has shown that extrinsic rewards do not help sports children with motivation at all!
Instead of pushing, talk to your children about the things they enjoy (or may enjoy) about playing sports.
Why do they play sports?
Is it to be with friends and socialize?
Is it out of a love of competition?
By helping your sports kids focus on the things they enjoy about their sports, you help them cultivate their passion and self-motivation.
Remember, the things that create motivation in sports are intrinsic, such as:
- socializing with friends
- having fun competing
- building self-confidence through improvement
Another way to promote self-motivation is to help kids pick a personal goal for their sport, something that comes from them.
Have it be a reachable but challenging goal.
It should be difficult enough to excite your sports kids’ ambitions but not so difficult as to make them feel like they could never accomplish it.
In this specific case, the parents of the tennis player above could talk to the tennis player about why he likes playing tennis in the first place.
If he says he enjoys the time with his friends, remind him that working on his game could let him continue playing with his friends for years to come.
If it is for the competition, remind him how good it feels to be in the midst of it! Then help him set an aggressive – yet reachable – goal for the future.
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Young athletes and 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 focus too much on the outcome instead of the process
- They fail to take charge of their confidence before the compete
- They don’t trust in their skills when they go from practice to competition
- They hang on to mistakes and dwell in them in competition
- They worry too much about what others think about their performance
- They tighten up and play safe when they feel pressure to succeed
- They interpret pregame jitters as harmful to their performance
“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…
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Help Young Athletes Boost Confidence in Sports!
Do your young athletes:
- Criticize themselves often after making mistakes?
- Lose confidence after working with a negative coach?
- Freeze up and look scared when faced with competitive pressure?
- Perform like stars in practice but freeze up or play tentatively during games or competitions?
If so, check out The Ultimate Sports Parent!
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What are sports parents saying about our mental training program?
“The Ultimate Sports Parent program is well designed to help parents and athletes come to terms with developing well rounded student athletes. This workbook will help give athletes and parents the competitive edge.”
~Mike Maveus, athlete & youth sports coach
“I just listened to The Ultimate Sports Parent CD program on a drive back from North Carolina. Every parent should be required to listen to it! I thought it was great.” Thank you.”
~Rita, Sports Parent
“Dr. Patrick Cohn and Lisa Cohn are to be congratulated! Together, they offer a wealth of knowledge, information, and practical mental tools for sports parents on the substantial “mental game” challenges and pressures facing today’s young athletes.”
~Marc D. Anderson, LCSW, MGCP, Mental Game Coach