The Benefits of a Mental Game
What’s more important in youth sports?
A strong mental game or physical talent?
Linda Crum, executive director of Positive Coaching Alliance Colorado, says the mental game is more important—and gets more important as kids start playing at elite levels.
At the younger stages, she says, the mental game likely accounts for about 50% of a child’s performance. As young athletes start competing at elite levels, about 90% of the game is mental, she says.
Crum knows what she’s talking about. She is a former Division I volleyball coach, currently coaches club volleyball, and is a mother of three youth athletes. She’s been coaching kids of all ages for more than 20 years.
In spite of the advantages of mental game training, lots of kids get scared when you talk about it, she says. They think it’s much more complicated than it really is. The key, she says, as coaches and parents, is to keep it simple.
For example, many kids start their sports careers in soccer. If they see a child who is bigger or faster, they tell themselves, “I can’t be as big or fast,” she says. “We need to transform that thinking, and focus on ‘I can work hard and keep fighting.’”
It’s all about helping them reframe how they’re thinking. If their “self-talk” is negative, we want to help them make it positive.
Another important part of the mental game is helping kids with mistakes.
“We want kids to make mistakes,” Crum says.
Why? Because they learn from them. And because everyone makes mistakes, it’s critical to be able to move on quickly after making them during a game.
After the game, coaches and parents can talk about mistakes.
“We want them to make mistakes so they can discuss them….’I didn’t hold my arm high enough’ for example,” she says.
But it’s also important to let kids know what they can control. They can control how they think. They can control their effort. In other words, they can control their mental game, Crum says.
“Effort is a big part of the mental game—how we move onto the next play. Their ability to move onto what will happen next is a critical mental game aspect.”
If you’d like to learn more about the importance of the mental game in sports, be sure to listen to our interview with Crum. Exclusive members of Kids’ Sports Psychology can access it here:
At Kids’ Sports Psychology, also available are additional expert interviews, videos, articles and much more to help you instill confidence in your young athletes!
What do parents and coaches say about our resources?
“I especially like the mental game videos that my son can watch alone or we can watch together. The videos help to reinforce all the concepts we have learned together. I think the pre-game stuff is cool and the lessons on confidence, coping with doubt, and trust are worth their weight in gold.”
~Dr. Adam Glantzman
Help your young athletes boost their confidence and enjoyment in sports!
p.s If you are interested in learning about Dr. Cohn’s mental coaching programs for young athletes, learn more here: Mental Coaching for Kids.
Help Your Young Athletes Improve Focus In Sports!
Are your young athletes easily distracted by people shouting on the sidelines? Do they obsess over their mistakes? Do they worry about what people think of them?
These issues will cause their concentration and performance to suffer!
The Focused Sports Kid helps kids overcome distractions that can hurt their performance in sports.
This is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to discover secrets to helping young athletes improve focus and concentration!
The Focused Sports Kid program is actually two programs: one for sports parents/coaches that provides mental game tips especially designed for parents and coaches, and for young athletes, ages 8 to 12, that will walk them through 7 simple lessons in mental focus in sports.
What are parents and coaches saying?
“I read your report and prepared a one-page summary for my team. I asked the team to attend a 10am training session on Saturday before the final on Sunday. (I told parents) they must obtain the one-page summary handout from me and ask a parent to read it to them until they understood what it meant…My boys succeeded! We beat a team that no one could beat during the year, that was coached by a former professional player that had sons of former Professional players in the team and as a result of believing in themselves, they won. In my humble opinion , I look beyond the game and hope the kids have learned a lesson in life that you really can do almost anything if you put your mind to it. We salute you and the wonderful work you do.”
~Anthony (Tony) Costa, coach
“We just completed the first ten tips, it has helped tremendously for (our daughter) and us. We’ve learned to keep our behavior and comments in check. She’s letting mistakes happen and not worrying about them, she’s now just moves on to the next play with the same attitude as before the mistakes. She’s playing more aggressively all game. Her coach even mentioned that whatever we are doing, keep doing because it’s working.”
~Scott, Sports Dad
Help Young Athletes Overcome Perfectionist Challenges in Sports!
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.
The Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma is a two part program. It includes:
- A 23 page E-book that identifies the challenge, explains why it is harmful to young athletes and gives step-by-stop sports psychology tips for helping kids.
- A 21 page kids’ sports psychology workbook that is intended to help you kids identify beliefs and expectations that are the root of perfectionism.
Now you can learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence!
What are parents saying?
“My wife and I immediately applied your tips and luckily we got a fast response. Our 16-year-old daughter reads like a case study for lack of confidence. She matches the profile your e-book describes: high technical ability and successful in soccer practice but looks like she forgets how to play in games!”
~Glenn G. New Jersey
“After listening to a couple of your podcasts and reading your “10 tips to confidence in youth sports,” most of the challenges you make note of apply to my 14-year-old son. He’s got all the physical ability, but the more mistakes he makes, the worse it seems to get. So reading and listening to your information has been so helpful and validates what I have observed in him for the past few months. Thank you so much!”
~Brenda Felder, Everett, WA