Important Dos and Don’ts for Sports Parents Before Games

How to Help Athletes be Relaxed before a Game

Parents want to know what to tell their athletes before a game that will help them perform well and feel less pressure

For example, parents say:

*Do you coach your kids on what to do?

*Do you let them mentally prepare on their own?

*Do you wait for them to talk about the game before saying anything?

Just before a game, you want to help your athletes have a calm mind so they can play freely and intuitively. This is what’s most important.

You don’t want to fill kids’ heads with technical instructions–the how to–because they should already know what to do. They have to trust the skills they have that day.

And you don’t want to talk about avoiding past mistakes or what outcomes you expect, such as goals scored or no errors. This can lead to kids feeling pressure to perform up to your instructions.

Instead, you do want to take their lead…

My daughter (Dr. Cohn), for example, did not want me to say anything before the tennis match. Anything I said would be interpreted as an expectation or something she MUST do during the match.

The most important two things to do are to say:

  1. “Enjoy the competition!” That means have fun and don’t focus on mistakes, what others think, or what others expect.
  2. “Focus on the moment–not on the outcome.” Outcomes are things like personal statistics or the score or win. Even worrying about what you might say to your athletes is under outcome thinking.

Very young kids naturally know how to play in the moment or the here and now. As they grow older, they start to focus more on the outcome and develop fears about disappointing others.

All of this thinking leads to playing safe or performing tentatively!

Athletes focus on the moment by thinking about performance cues, which are thoughts, feelings, communication from teammates, or cues from their surroundings.

A basketball player, for example, might focus on court awareness, creating space to accept a pass, controlling the dribbling, or shooting decisively. All of these cues have to do with being immersed in the second-by-second play of the game.

Anytime you focus your athletes on outcome, such as stats, wins, or avoiding mistakes, this makes it much harder for them to play intuitively in the moment and trust in their skills.

We’re here to help your sports kids learn how to prepare for games, avoid stress, pressure and have fun…

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

Improve Your Mental Game From Anywhere In The World

We’re certain that, as a parent, you want to help your child develop confidence and discipline in sports and life. And as a sports parent, you’d love for your children to reach their potential in sports. But encouraging your child to strive for greatness without pressuring them can be a challenge.

You can get expert mental coaching with us from anywhere. Meet with us via Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or phone call. With today’s video technology, we are able to connect with athletes and coaches all over the globe.

Call Us Today to Schedule Your Free 15-Minute Session.
Find Out How Your Athlete Can Benefit From One-on-One Mental Coaching!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.