How to Teach Young Athletes Mental Toughness
Sports parents, want to help your kids achieve peak performance, that elusive state that allows them to stay in the moment, banish distractions and perform their best?
Peak performance comes from great preparation. Consistent peak performance is based on consistent mental preparation.
Help your sports kids understand that they shouldn’t reserve great preparation for only the most important competitions. Many athletes prepare for regular season competitions in ways that are different from big performances.
Help kids make preparation a habit. They should look at competition in a consistent manner, no matter the significance of the game. That type of attitude will produce high performance.
In other words, athletes shouldn’t try to flip a switch and perform at their peak suddenly at the end of the season. End of the season performances should be a culmination of all their preparation throughout the season.
Mental preparation is especially important. It’s not a good idea for young athletes to start visualizing and learning other mental strategies when championship games approach. Kids can’t achieve the benefits of mental preparation unless they consistently dedicate time throughout the season to improving their mental games.
The Temple University football team focuses on preparation each time the team gathers, whether for practice, training, scrimmages, film sessions or games. Every game is equally important to the Owls.
Temple linebacker Chapelle Russell says every game is a championship game in his mind, especially as conference play starts.
“Every game from here on out, in my eyes, is a championship game. Conference game, every game matters. It’s a championship mentality, every time you come out you come out to this field. We want to continue working regardless of our opponent, … Any bit of mental prep we can do to add an advantage to [our] game, that’s what we are going to do,” Russell says.
Help kids understand that they need to do more than show up for practice. They should be focused during practice and training sessions. If they’re not focused during this time, they’ll also lose focus when competing. They need to hustle, push past their comfort zones and go all out in practice.
If they don’t develop their mental skills, they’ll lack the mental toughness needed to overcome obstacles and achieve peak performance.
If they’re not prepared for each game as if it were a championship level competition, they will have inconsistent performances.
Kids need to keep in mind: The ability to be consistent and achieve peak performance depends on their preparation habits.
Tell sports kids to ask themselves, “What would I do if my championship competition was scheduled in two weeks? How would I get ready to perform my best?”
To mentally prepare, kids need to enter the role of the athlete, fuel their confidence, focus on one play or step at a time and learn how to trust in their skills.
Kids should remember: Making preparation a habit leads to peak performance
Learn Mental Game Lessons to Help Young Athletes With Their Pregame Prep!
Young athletes and their parents and coaches tell us that sports kids often struggle with these pregame mental game challenges:
- 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 hang on to mistakes and dwell in them in competition
- They worry too much about what others think about their performance
- They feel pressure to excel from expectations they feel from others
- They focus too much on the outcome instead of the process
- They tighten up and play safe when they feel pressure to succeed
- 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…
With our program, you can stop wondering what to do and relax before your kids’ games!
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