Fear of Failure for Young Athletes
Elizabeth Pecsok, a coach at Oregon Gymnastics Academy (OGA), says coaching kids with special needs is all about helping them attain their personal goals and feel successful.
She provides one-on-one coaching to kids who have ADHD, autism, sensory challenges and other issues.
“I focus on what that child needs and what that child needs that day,” she says. She concentrates on enforcing positive behaviors and ensuring the young gymnasts have a place to feel successful.
Pecsok tailors each lesson to the individual. “If they have certain goals they want to achieve, we focus on that. If they’re there to have fun and just want to be physical, I just focus on having fun.”
If the kids have fun, she says, they will feel successful.
Many of the special needs kids Pecsok works with are afraid of failing, afraid of trying new skills, or want to do things perfectly, she says.
“Kids don’t want to do certain things, are afraid of failing, or are embarrassed easily,” she says.
If her students are afraid of failing or trying something new, Pecsok tries to break the skill down into steps.
She also encourages kids to try things they’re afraid of and congratulates them when they try to reach their goals.
And when kids say they did something that felt perfect to them–even if it’s not technically perfect–Pecsok celebrates that feeling with the young athletes.
Her advice for parents: “Focus on the little victories I like to focus on fun. Tell them, `I really liked how brave you were today when you were doing cartwheels.’”
Listen to the entire podcast with Elizabeth Pecsok.
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?
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