Mental Preparation For Young Athletes
A parent asks:
“My child doesn’t seem as mentally ready as some of the other kids in his league. I need concrete ideas on what to say and do to help my child prepare for competition.”
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
This old Benjamin Franklin quote says it all! Lack of mental preparation by kids leads to lack of consistency in their play.
If kids play without proper mental preparation, their confidence or focus will suffer, and thus performance. It’s a bad spiral.
For example, when kids fail to prepare, they aren’t as focused or ready to cope with making mistakes.
The mistakes caused by their lack of preparation can pile up.
Often, this leads to fear of making more mistakes, which means they’ll play tentatively, inconsistently and won’t perform up to their potential.
What’s more, when kids fail to prepare mentally, they often don’t have proper game plans. It’s hard for them to perform well if they don’t have a clear idea about what they’re want to do during the game.
There are many ways to help kids prepare mentally. You can begin by asking them to focus on their goals or objectives, such as good footwork or focusing on one play at a time.
High expectations, such as wanting to score the most goals or points on a team, can lead to frustration and lower confidence when they don’t. You want your athletes to keep their expectations in check about outcomes.
If kids are expecting to be the best players or highest scorers, encourage them to replace these expectations with smaller or more manageable goals.
For example, if they say they want to score thirty points in their basketball game, encourage them to focus on good footwork or sharp passing.
Help sports kids set small, achievable short-term objectives that help them focus on the process instead of judging their performance.
By setting smaller goals, your children can feel more self-confidence, rather than having it beaten down by perceived failure.
For more tips about how to prepare kids mentally for competition, be sure to check out our latest program, “10-Minute Pregame Prep,” here:
Young athletes, their parents and coaches tell us that sports kids often struggle with these pregame mental game challenges:
- They feel pressure to excel from expectations they feel from others
- They fail to take charge of their confidence before the compete
- They don’t trust in their skills when they go from practice to competition
- They focus too much on the outcome instead of the process
- They tighten up and play safe when they feel pressure to succeed
- They worry too much about what others think about their performance
- They hang on to mistakes and dwell in them in competition
- They interpret pregame jitters as harmful to their performance
“10 Minute Pregame Prep” will tell you everything you need to know about ensuring your sports kids avoid classic mental game pitfalls before a game, learn how to trust their instincts, and just go for it. It provides lots of advice for you, too…
Parents ask us:
“I am more nervous than my son before games. How do I as a parent stay calm and not show I am nervous before games?”
“My challenge is not to talk too much about the upcoming games or what they need to do. I want to psych him up and encourage him but don’t want him to feel that he has to perform perfectly.”
“How do I support my athlete without putting more pressure on him?”
With our program, you can stop wondering what to do and relax before your kids’ games!
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