One Must-Have Mental Game Strategy to Help Young Athletes Excel in Competition

Youth Sports Psychology

Bringing Practice Confidence to Games in Youth Sports

A sports parent tells us her son really shines on the field during practice.

“He’s way beyond all the other boys in terms of technical and tactical skills during practice.”

However, here’s the “but…” And it’s a big one.

During a game, she says, you wouldn’t know her son excels in practice.

Does this sound familiar?

Do your sports kids have trouble transferring skills from practice to games?

Read on to learn how sports parents and coaches can conquer this challenge.

During a game, this parent says, her son plays with no confidence.

“He says he is afraid of losing the ball. He wouldn’t lose the ball if he applied his skills.”

This sports parent put her finger right on a common problem: Fear and lack of trust. That’s often what holds kids back during games. In fact, young athletes who are highly motivated and –sometimes perfectionists—experience this challenge.

These athletes love to train, but lack confidence during games. They tend to analyze and question their technique at precisely the wrong moment—when they’re competing. They’re afraid of making mistakes.

In order to feel confident during games, young athletes need to strike a balance between what we call the “practice” mindset and the “performance” mindset.

Many motivated or goal-oriented athletes excel in practice. They like to improve and love to train.. However, if they focus too much on improving, they may lose faith in their skills during competition. They lack trust in what they have learned.

Coaches and sports parents can undermine kids’ trust in their skills when they over-coach kids before games. When kids focus too much on proper technique during games and attempt to be “perfect” when performing, they can’t react or perform from memory.

Instead, you need to encourage kids to leave practice on the field or court or in the gym. Help them switch to a “performer” or “intuitive” mindset. They need to be more reactive and to keep things simple. “See the ball and hit it.”

Also, tell them to stop analyzing or judging their technique during competition. They should accept that they can’t be perfect.

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Help Young Athletes Boost Confidence in Sports!

The Ultimate Sports Parent

Every day, we receive letters from parents like you who want their children and teens to excel in sports. However, these parents can see fear, doubt, and frustration on the faces of their kids who struggle with the “inner” game of sports. But these parents have no idea how to help their kids overcome the worries, expectations and self-defeating thoughts that prevent their young athletes from feeling confident and successful.

You can benefit from our 15-plus years’ of work in sports psychology and sports parenting research. Now, you can tap into our secrets to sports success through a cutting-edge, 14-day program that helps young athletes overcome the top “mental game” challenges that sports parents face—and the top challenges young athletes face.

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