Sports Parents And Motivating Their Athletes
Lisa Cohn here from The Ultimate Sports Parent. Just yesterday, my 7-year-old told me he didn’t want to go to gymnastics. He said he didn’t like doing the warm-up exercises and wasn’t going to go any more.
But I know he loves his gymnastics class…
I had a few options here. One, tell him he had committed to the class and had to go. Two, tell him he didn’t have to go if he didn’t want to. Or three, I could try to understand why he didn’t want to go and work through the challenge.
As you might guess, I chose option three. I asked him for more information about what was bothering him (he felt some of the warm-up-exercises were too hard and said he wasn’t doing them well), and offered to speak to the coach about his concerns.
So, off we went to gymnastics. I spoke to the coach, who gave the kids a talk about why they shouldn’t push themselves too hard or try to be perfect; my son (a perfectionist) was relieved by the coach’s talk and had a great class.
In these types of situations, where kids say they don’t want to go to practice, or don’t want to play anymore, or don’t want to work hard in sports, parents need to walk a fine between being there for their kids and pushing them.
In other words, they need to motivate them without pressuring them.
The first step to improving your sports kids‘ motivation is to know what gets kids motivated.
You also need to understand what causes athletes to lose motivation and want to quit.
In my case, my son’s feeling as if he wasn’t doing the warm-up well prompted him to say he didn’t want to go to his class.
Kids generally participate in sports for the following reasons:
- To be with friends or part of a group
- To experience the excitement of competition
- To impress or make others happy
- To learn and improve their skills
- To improve their physical fitness
- To experience flow or feeling of enjoyment
As you try to motivate your young athletes, focus on what motivates them—not on why you want them to participate. Follow their lead. What’s more, it’s important to set high yet attainable goals.
The key for parents is to focus on their young athletes‘ small improvements.
For example, golfers can learn simple tasks such as keeping their heads down during putting.
Want to learn more about how to motivate your young athletes without pressuring them?
At Kids’ Sports Psychology, exclusive members can download an eBook that’s packed with advice about this topic. It’s called “How to Best Motivate Young Athletes,” and can be found here:
How To Best Motivate Young Athletes
In addition, at Kids’ Sports Psychology, we offer audio interviews with experts, additional eBooks—some written just for kids—videos, and much more.
What do parents say about our resources?
“The Ultimate Sports Parent program is more about being a great motivator for your kid than being a sideline parent. In other words, this program is the PROACTIVE approach to sports parenting—coaching your kid!”
~Kris Evenson, Sports Parent
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Help Young Athletes Boost Confidence in Sports!
Do your young athletes:
- Criticize themselves often after making mistakes?
- Freeze up and look scared when faced with competitive pressure?
- Lose confidence after working with a negative coach?
- Perform like stars in practice but freeze up or play tentatively during games or competitions?
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