Pressure And Social Approval
Often, young athletes worry too much about what teammates, parents, coaches and friends think about how they’re performing on the court, field or course.
When they seek others’ approval of their performance and abilities, and then don’t do well, they can feel inadequate.
They might pressure themselves, which can prompt fear of failure if they don’t perform up to their expectations.
Do you see what a downward spiral such thinking can cause?
The truth is, many kids worry about what others think. It’s a pretty common issue we see with young athletes.
However, you can equip young athletes with tools that help them keep their desire for social approval in check.
First of all, be sure to think about what you say that might contribute to your kids’ need for social approval.
Avoid saying things like, “Aunt Becky is coming to your game Friday and I hope you score a lot and impress her,” or “ I was embarrassed for you when you missed the open net.”
As parents, your job is to avoid saying things that might increase kids’ need for social approval.
What’s more, you can help kids identify when they worry about what peers, coaches and parents think of them and what specifically keeps them awake at night.
For example, do they worry about disappointing their teammates when they miss shots? Do they worry about what friends will think if they look funny in their sports uniforms?
If they feel this way, they’ll tighten up and will have a difficult time playing freely and intuitively.
Be sure to help your young athletes understand that they need to play for themselves and enjoy themselves.
It’s not a good idea to play to please others. Tell them it’s all about learning new skills, or being part of a team, and having fun.
Want to learn more about how to help kids deal with the common challenge of worrying about what others think?
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Young athletes and their parents and coaches tell us that sports kids often struggle with these pregame mental game challenges:
- They feel pressure to excel from expectations they feel from others
- They focus too much on the outcome instead of the process
- 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 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…
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Do your young athletes:
- Criticize themselves often after making mistakes?
- Freeze up and look scared when faced with competitive pressure?
- Lose confidence after working with a negative coach?
- Perform like stars in practice but freeze up or play tentatively during games or competitions?
If so, check out The Ultimate Sports Parent!
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~Brenda Felder, Everett, WA
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