Growth Mindset for Young Athletes
Rather than focusing on instilling fear to motivate athletes, parents need to create a safe training environment for them, says Pomai Miyata, MGCP, and sports performance consultant and founder of ICE Mental Game.
Fear-based training was common with old-school coaches and is often depicted in movies.
With this type of training, coaches yell at kids, compare them to others and shame and humiliate them, she told us during an interview on our Ultimate Sports Parent podcast.
“Unfortunately some of it is still around, some of it is coaches not being aware of what they are doing or exhibiting subtle behaviors. Most coaches and parents don’t mean to create this type of environment,” she says.
For example, coaches might try to encourage but inadvertently discourage young athletes. They might say, “You did this last week, you can do it this week.” Athletes might respond by thinking that something’s wrong with them. They get the wrong message.
Instead, coaches and parents should create a safe training environment that allows kids to adopt a growth mindset in which they’re curious and open, rather than fearful, says Miyata.
“A safe training environment is a place where students or athletes are able to foster a growth mindset. They are free to learn and feel it’s okay to fail and make mistakes. They need to take risks and not fear negative consequences,” she explains.
If kids have a closed mindset–often prompted by fear-based training– they tell themselves “I can’t do this, I won’t try any more,” Miyata says.
Not only should parents and coaches focus on creating a fun training environment. They should help their sports kids “get in the zone” by encouraging them to “be in their hindbrains.” While the frontal lobe is in charge of thinking, and often moves slowly, the hindbrain is responsible for fast action, based on intuition.
To help them get into their hindbrains, don’t give them lots of instructions…
Create a warm up routine that sets the tone for a game or competition. A warm up routine helps kids move away from thinking about the technical aspects of their game and click into the flow of sports, Miyata says.
Listen to the Ultimate Sports Podcast Below:
Help Your Kids Improve Mental Toughness
It’s no secret that sports success is linked closely to an athlete’s mental toughness. If your young athletes struggle to perform well in competition, are frustrated with their performance, talk about quitting or display low confidence levels, mental game training can help. Both you and your young athlete can learn how to build mental toughness and improve performance with sports psychology coaching for kids.
One-on-one sports psychology coaching is the fastest and most effective method to improve your athletes’ mental game, boost their performance, and make lasting changes. And as a bonus, parents learn what to say to help young athletes feel confident and thrive in sports.
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