How to Help Kids Cope With Mistakes

Youth Sports Psychology

Pregame Mental Preparation For Young Athletes

Just before a game, it’s critical for kids to understand that mistakes are part of youth sports and it’s okay to make them.

Your athletes need to prepare mentally before the game starts so they can cope better.

You want to instill in them the idea that they need to let go of mistakes and move on as quickly as possible.

In our new “10-Minute Pregame Prep” program, we explain how to do this.

Here’s an excerpt from Lesson 5 in the Sports Parent Manual:

Here’s the challenge: Too often, young athletes dwell on or can’t let go of their mistakes. They get frustrated or angry after making mistakes and lose emotional composure. Worse, they focus on the past because they can’t stop thinking about their mistakes.”

“As parents, you play a big role in either aggravating sports kids’ worry and frustration over making mistakes—or you help kids get over mistakes quickly. Obviously, we want you to help kids move on with composure and a clear mind after mistakes.”

Here’s why: When your kids dwell on mistakes, not only are they upset about their performance, they can’t focus on what they need to do at that particular moment. They relive the mistake in their minds, over and over, perhaps thinking about what they did wrong, what they could have done differently, or what teammates might think.”

“When kids dwell on mistakes, they focus on the past. But they need to focus on what’s going on right now to perform well and enjoy sports.”

“There are many ways you can help. First of all, be clear you understand your kids are human. Tell them that you know they will make mistakes—and that you believe they will learn from them! Perfectionist athletes struggle with accepting mistakes the most.”

“Second, avoid communicating high expectations to your young athletes. This will make your kids feel like they shouldn’t make mistakes. Don’t say things like, “I want you to be the top scorer on your team today,” or, “Don’t screw up on your passes today,” or, “You’re always the best player on your team.” They need to focus on what’s going on right now to perform well and enjoy sports.”

10-Minute Pregame Prep” is two programs in one: (1) a manual for parents and coaches, and (2) short pregame audio lessons for young athletes.

Sports kids listen to a ten-minute audio program just before each competition that teaches them a specific mental game skill. The parents’ and coaches’ manual helps you support your young athletes’ mental game before a competition.

Check out our new program for sports kids and parents to learn more…

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify

Help Young Athletes Boost Confidence in Sports!

The Ultimate Sports Parent

Every day, we receive letters from parents like you who want their children and teens to excel in sports. However, these parents can see fear, doubt, and frustration on the faces of their kids who struggle with the “inner” game of sports. But these parents have no idea how to help their kids overcome the worries, expectations and self-defeating thoughts that prevent their young athletes from feeling confident and successful.

You can benefit from our 15-plus years’ of work in sports psychology and sports parenting research. Now, you can tap into our secrets to sports success through a cutting-edge, 14-day program that helps young athletes overcome the top “mental game” challenges that sports parents face—and the top challenges young athletes face.

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