Embracing Failure to Grow in Youth Sports
There’s two ways young athletes can deal with failure and losses, says Eric DeMeulenaere, a Clark University professor, former soccer coach and author of “Reflections From the Field.”
They can look at losses from a growth mindset, which means feeling the pain and embracing ways to improve–or they can look at failure and loss from a fixed mindset, and give up, rather than trying to learn from mistakes and failure.
Of course, we want our young athletes to embrace a growth mindset, as espoused by psychologist Carol Dweck, says DeMeulenaere.
In sports, that can mean teaching kids to feel the pain of failure and encourage them to learn from it, work hard, and move forward.
He notes that the most successful athletes aren’t necessarily those with the most talent. But they are those with growth mindsets.
“Most Olympic athletes have a growth mindset,” he says. “Their mindset has a lot to do with how they get there.”
DeMeulenaere, whose work focuses on inner city youth, also says that it’s critical to shift inner city youth’s expectations. Too often, they expect to be mediocre, and that hurts their performance and success.
That’s why the mental game in sports he so critical.
“All the fundamentals aren’t important. The kids mentally have to be ready to learn the fundamentals,” he says.
“In urban schools, we need to shift the cultural mindset,” he adds.
In his book, which says that coaching improves teachers’ teaching skills, DeMeulenaere concludes that the best coaches aim to “develop young people into whole human beings.” They care deeply about each player and strive to teach them to be leaders.
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Kids’ Sport Psychology Network
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P.S. Exclusive members of Kids’ Sports Psychology, don’t miss DeMeulenaere’s inspiring interview about growth mindsets in sports. You can access it here: Kids’ Sport Psychology Network
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