How Expectations Create Pressure in Sports Kids
Youth coach Doug Donaldson says he knows intuitively when one of his young athletes feels pressured by a parent’s expectations. And he also knows the problems such well-meaning expectations can create in young athletes.
For example, one of his player’s mothers wants the child to play goalie in Lacrosse. But when the mother isn’t listening, the boy says he wants to play defense.
“It’s a real quandary for him. He’s looking for Mom and worrying about what Mom thinks.”
Donaldson says he can sense when his young athletes are driven to do something to meet their parents’ expectations. They feel pressured.
“This affects their passion and their interest,” he says.
How do parents’ and coaches’ expectations affect kids’ passion and interest?
Not in good ways. Not in ways that improve their mental game–or performance.
Parents and coaches need to understand the difference between helping kids strive for a goal and placing expectations on them…
When kids strive for a goal, it’s a continuous process and the goal is not set in stone.
When parents place expectations on kids, they’re pressuring them. Even the phrase, “Score 10 or more points today,” as well-meaning as it might be, will feel like pressure to kids. They’ll take on such expectations as their own.
Too often, parents and coaches demand perfection. They don’t want kids to make mistakes, and berate them for making mistakes.
If you ask the kids, they’ll tell you that these types of expectations cause them to feel afraid of making mistakes and failing. And, as we’ve told our readers over and over, this isn’t a good thing.
When kids develop fear of failure or fear of mistakes, they play tentatively. They don’t want to take risks. They play a controlled game and perform badly.
Want to learn more about how to improve kids’ confidence and your sports parenting skills?
You can begin by listening to our interview with Donaldson.
If you’re already an exclusive Kids’ Sports Psychology member, you can access the audio today:
Doug Donaldson Interview at Kids’ Sports Psychology
You’ll also gain access to e-books that address these topics (and more):
- Growing From Adversity: How to Stay Confident after Failure (for sports kids)
- Building Self-Confidence in Sports—for Kids 10 and Under
- 7 Strategies to Help Sports Kids Stay Composed after Making Mistakes
But that’s not all. At Kids’ Sports Psychology, you can download more than 17 e-books–some written for parents and some specifically for sports kids.
Members can also get audio and video programs and articles that help young athletes get the most out of their physical talent.
Help your sports cope better with expectations they feel from coaches and parents. Become a member today:
Kids’ Sports Psychology
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~Marc D. Anderson, LCSW, MGCP, Mental Game Coach