Mental Stamina in Youth Sports
Let’s say your young athlete is a golfer, baseball player or basketball player who needs to focus intensely before making a putt, throwing a pitch, hitting a ball or shooting a free-throw.
The player generally has a strategy and an intention; the goal is to follow through on that strategy and intention. But a lot can get in the way of that goal: doubts, worries and distractions can creep into young athletes’ minds and foil their efforts to focus.
So how exactly do young athletes learn how to avoid these traps?
Athletes need mental stamina to succeed. And just like they need training to boost their physical stamina, they need training and conditioning to develop mental stamina, says Wes Sime, Ph.D., a sports psychologist who has worked with Olympic athletes and coaches, was a professor of health and human performance at the University of Nebraska and specializes in biofeedback and neurofeedback.
One elite golfer told Sime, “I have changed my mind in mid-swing 10,000 times in my career,” Sime says. It’s that change-of-mind that sports kids want to avoid.
Sime uses biofeedback to help athletes young and old understand what gets in the way of their mental stamina.
You and your young athletes can learn from Sime’s work—without necessarily embracing biofeedback and neurofeedback.
“Biofeedback is being able to see or hear changes in the body that are so subtle we don’t see them sneaking up on us,” Sime says.
Sime can hook athletes up to sensors—sometimes using wireless sensors while the athletes are actually playing—and measure things like sweaty hands and brain waves to get a feel for what’s going on inside the athletes’ mind and body. Athletes then learn more about what causes them to do things like change their minds in mid-swing. This gives them the information they need to improve their mental stamina.
At Kids’ Sports Psychology, we help young athletes improve their mental stamina by teaching them to concentrate on what’s happening in the moment—the next swing, putt or play. We also suggest that they establish small, manageable goals and aim for them. That helps them stay focused. If they get distracted, we recommend that they try the Three R’s.
They need to:
- Recognize that they are dwelling on the past.
- Regroup by using a refocus statement to pull themselves out of the past.
- Refocus and get focused on the next play, shot, or routine.
Want to learn more about how to help kids boost their mental stamina, improve their confidence and improve their performance? At Kids’ Sports Psychology, we offer loads of resources to help improve your sports parenting skills and help kids make the most of their sports experience.
Our resources include:
- Audio interviews with experts like Sime;
- Our “Inside The Minds of Young Athletes” video series, with interviews with kids and Dr. Cohn’s commentary about their mental game;
- E-books aimed at helping boost kids’ confidence and success
- Articles about focusing, kicking perfectionism, playing in the moment,
- and much more!
Here’s what people are saying about our resources:
“I’ve read a number of Kids’ Sports Psychology articles and watched several videos mostly about building confidence. As sports parents, we’ve changed our behavior. We’ve stopped criticizing her performance and have focused on what she did well. We do see an improvement in her practices, but most of all they are more enjoyable for her and us.”
~Margot Ambrose, Parent
Help your young athletes reach their physical potential! Visit Kids’ Sports Psychology online mental training program:
Kids’ Sports Psychology
P.S. If you’re already an exclusive Kids’ Sports Psychology member, click here to listen to our interview with Sime and learn what he says you can do to increase mental stamina with—and without—biofeedback.
Expert Interview With Dr. Sime
Help Your Young Athletes Improve Focus In Sports!
Are your young athletes easily distracted by people shouting on the sidelines? Do they obsess over their mistakes? Do they worry about what people think of them?
These issues will cause their concentration and performance to suffer!
The Focused Sports Kid helps kids overcome distractions that can hurt their performance in sports.
This is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to discover secrets to helping young athletes improve focus and concentration!
The Focused Sports Kid program is actually two programs: one for sports parents/coaches that provides mental game tips especially designed for parents and coaches, and for young athletes, ages 8 to 12, that will walk them through 7 simple lessons in mental focus in sports.
What are parents and coaches saying?
“I read your report and prepared a one-page summary for my team. I asked the team to attend a 10am training session on Saturday before the final on Sunday. (I told parents) they must obtain the one-page summary handout from me and ask a parent to read it to them until they understood what it meant…My boys succeeded! We beat a team that no one could beat during the year, that was coached by a former professional player that had sons of former Professional players in the team and as a result of believing in themselves, they won. In my humble opinion , I look beyond the game and hope the kids have learned a lesson in life that you really can do almost anything if you put your mind to it. We salute you and the wonderful work you do.”
~Anthony (Tony) Costa, coach
Help Young Athletes Overcome Perfectionist Challenges in Sports!
Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma: Helping Young Athletes Kick Perfectionism And Fear of Failure will walk you through the problem and arm you with practical solutions.
The Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma is a two part program. It includes:
- A 23 page E-book that identifies the challenge, explains why it is harmful to young athletes and gives step-by-stop sports psychology tips for helping kids.
- A 21 page kids’ sports psychology workbook that is intended to help you kids identify beliefs and expectations that are the root of perfectionism.
Now you can learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence!
What are parents saying?
“After listening to a couple of your podcasts and reading your “10 tips to confidence in youth sports,” most of the challenges you make note of apply to my 14-year-old son. He’s got all the physical ability, but the more mistakes he makes, the worse it seems to get. So reading and listening to your information has been so helpful and validates what I have observed in him for the past few months. Thank you so much!”
~Brenda Felder, Everett, WA