Using Mindset to Get to The Next Level
Some young atheltes define themselves by their limitations, saying “I’m shorter than most basketball players,” “I’m not as fast as other players on the soccer field,” or “I don’t have enough speed on my fastball to play college baseball.”
When young athletes focus on limitations or weaknesses, they undermine their practice and performance. Size, ability and strength are valuable attributes but are not the game-changing factors that make athletes elite.
For example, undersized NFL wide receivers have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Many tennis players have great careers even though they don’t have overpowering strokes. Athletes have made names for themselves by out-hustling other competitors.
Work is what differentiates elite athletes from others.
That’s not just about working hard in practice. It’s also about preparation–which includes diet, flexibility and strength training. And just as important, it’s about mental work, which involves confidence building, boosting focus and managing stress.
When athletes invest in the mental work, they learn technical skills faster and are better able to replicate those skills under the pressure of competition. They maximize their abilities and reach more of their potential. They perform more consistently and at a higher level.
Investing in the mental side of sports also helps kids meet the demands of competing at high levels. But too often, athletes, coaches and parents neglect the mental side of sports, even though mental skills contribute most to optimal performance.
Adding mental skill training can boost young atheletes’ performance to new levels and help them achieve their potential.
Canadian basketball player Natalie Achonwa is motivated to help Canada win its first ever Olympic medal. Achonwa will be competing in her third Olympic Games and is doing everything she can to prepare and help Canada reach the podium at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
In spite of the adversity brought about by the pandemic, Canada has found methods to build team unity and prepare in every way possible.
“We did a virtual training camp where we spent about two hours a day on a Zoom call doing everything from team building to mental training with our sports psych, to tactical stuff, watching film, breaking down film. It was a tactical week via Zoom,” said Achonwa.
The Canada Olympic basketball team is putting in the work, fully preparing mentally, tactically and physically. Team Canada is taking advantage of every opportunity, in spite of obstacles.
Young atheltes could accomplish much more if they, too, committed more to mental training. The challenge is finding the time and helping busy athletes buy into the importance.
To work on the mental game, kids, with their coaches, should create a seasonal plan for their mental training. Young athletes need to think about which mental skills will benefit them most. How will they develop these skills? Where will they participate in mental training? Which resources will they utilize to improve their mental game?
Once the physical training is complete and it’s time to compete, athletes’ mental work pays off.
Even if kids aren’t playing sports right now due to COVID-19, they can work on their mental skills. This will take them to a new level of performance.
Related Articles for Young Athletes:
- Help Your Athletes Close out Competitions
- Young Athletes Need these Two Mental Skills for Success
- How Young Athletes Can Use Mental Imagery to Boost Performance
Help Kids in Sports Kick Perfectionism
Nearly every athlete struggles with some form of perfectionism or fear of failure. Kids who look like stars in practice will often choke up or under perform during games or competition.
Other athletes expect too much of themselves—then get frustrated when they don’t meet their high expectations.
Or they’re extremely hard on themselves. In all cases, this causes young athletes to play it safe. They refuse to take the important risks that help them excel and improve their confidence. Suddenly, they’re held back by fear, indecision, and hesitation.
Sports parents and coaches who contact us are bewildered. They watch kids go through this cycle and feel as if they have no clue about how to help their kids.
In fact, rather than supporting their young athletes’ mental game, they often pour salt in the wound, saying and doing things that cause their kids to freeze up even more and become more frustrated, more tense and less productive in sports.
There’s nothing worse than helplessly watching your young athletes fall into the same negative pattern again and again—without knowing what to do about it! It’s so frustrating to stand by while your physically talented athletes lose confidence, wondering how you can help them!
Then you try your best to help, only to discover you have made the problem worse. Your young athletes pressure themselves more, freeze up even more, lose their effectiveness and become more frustrated. They may even blame you for making them feel more pressured.
Now, you can learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence. You can stop guessing about what to do and say to your athlete!
Our program: “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 you can start implementing today.
Makes your role as a sports parent more enjoyable and easier! We tell you how to help your young athletes:
- Let go of mistakes more quickly
- Accept feedback better
- Stop criticizing themselves
- Perform more freely
- Think more creatively
- Stop worrying about what others’ think
- Dramatically improve their performance and attitude in sports
- Improve their confidence in sports
- They, too, will have more fun and reap more rewards.