How Young Athletes Can Cope with Adversity

How Young Athletes Can Cope with Adversity

The phrase “to make matters worse” catastrophizes an adverse event.

Many sports announcers use the phrase to describe an athlete’s or team’s worsening prospects or condition throughout a season

Many young athletes get stuck in the habit of catastrophizing. They often highlight every bad break, unlucky event and poor showing as an excuse for a future loss.

For example, “Our team has been battling nagging injuries all year, and one of our best players is out. The last two games we played were our worst games of the year. To make matters worse, we have to play against the top team in the league to advance to the playoffs.”

When sports kids build a case against themselves, they do “make matters worse.”

Not only does catastrophizing hurt their confidence, it keeps them focused on the problem. And it keeps them focused on negativity.

To break out of the catastrophizing mode, young athletes need to focus on solutions. It is important to remember that while kids may not be able to change their current circumstances, they do have control over their reactions and actions.

When adversity strikes, kids should focus on their game plan, preparation and approach for the next competition.

This solution-based focus is empowering. A “focus on solutions” mindset gives sports kids a sense of control and confidence to move forward and compete to the best of their abilities.

The Philadelphia Eagles started the 2023-24 season with a 10-1 record and appeared to be one of the NFL’s best teams.

During the final month and a half of the season, the Eagles proceeded to fall apart and ended their regular season by losing five of their last six games.

The Eagles finished the season with a record of 11-6. Instead of winning the NFC East crown, the Eagles had to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Wild Card playoff game on the road.

Instead of focusing on the team’s struggles and injuries, Eagles defensive lineman Fletcher Cox chose to remain optimistic and focus on solutions.

When asked about the team’s declining performance, Cox said he is focused on “what’s next” rather than “what has happened in the past.”

“We get to go out and play again next week,” he said. “You’re speaking of our last six weeks, and I’m speaking of the weekend we have coming up ahead of us. I want to think positive and not negative. It’s a whole brand new season for everybody; no matter what went on in the past, no matter what went on.”

What happened last week doesn’t matter; even what happened yesterday is past. The most important thing young athletes can do is to work toward success today.

Instead of tallying up the negatives against them, young athletes should look for evidence that supports their success, such as, “No one can outwork me. I can gain a significant edge with my mental game. I think quick on my feet.”

When kids look for evidence that supports their chances of success, they will prepare and compete with more confidence.

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