How to Help Sports Kids Feel Less Pressure
What should you do if your young athlete wants to quit sports?
Seventy-five percent of young athletes quit sports by the age of 16.
The reasons vary, but most often, the child is no longer having fun.
As sports parents, what can you do?
You need to remember that if your sports children decide they want to quit a sport, there is very little you can do.
There are plenty of ways you can exacerbate the situation, though.
Often, sports parents will react to kids’ desire to quit a sport by putting pressure on them to continue.
This pressure not only doesn’t help the situation; it intensifies the sports kids’ negative feelings by adding pressure onto how they’re already feeling.
Sometimes sports children are already feeling pressure from the parents, which can prompt them to want to quit, so putting more pressure at this stage will hurt your sports kids’ ability to have fun—and their confidence.
So what can a sports parent do?
The answer is first to question your own motivation as a sports parent.
Are you motivated by your personal fulfillment or, on the other hand, are you motivated by your sports kids’ own desires?
Often, kids play sports to be with friends, or to be part of a team, but not necessarily to earn scholarships or always win.
If you find that you’re driven by your own ideas and not the wants and needs of your sports child, it is likely that you need to take a step back from the situation and stop trying to influence your sports child.
On the other hand, if you are motivated by doing what is best for your sports kids, take some time to talk to them about why they are struggling with their sport.
What has caused them to stop having fun?
Often, sports kids stop having fun because they develop fear of failure or a sport-based anxiety.
For fear of failure, you should begin by giving sports kids five get-out-of-jail cards.
When they make mistakes, make a flushing motion to say, “Move on to the next play.”
The idea is to take the pressure off and give them permission to make mistakes.
For more tips, check out our video, “When Your Young Athletes Quit Sports“:
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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
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Help Young Athletes Boost Confidence in Sports!
Do your young athletes:
- Criticize themselves often after making mistakes?
- Lose confidence after working with a negative coach?
- Freeze up and look scared when faced with competitive pressure?
- 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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What are sports parents saying about our mental training program?
“ABSOLUTELY LOVING your weekly videos and tips. I have a young high performing tennis player. He almost needs the thrill of competition and a match to perform well. In fact the more people that are watching and the higher the stakes the better he usually does. His problem is practice-he does not seem to motivate himself in practice.”
~Alex Dunn, Sports Parent