Helping Kids’ Avoid Burnout in Sports
Hernan Chousa is a former tennis pro and sports dad to a tennis player who is now playing at a Division 1 college.
His son started playing early, and burnt out at age 15. He quit tennis for two years, then started over because he wanted to win a scholarship to play in college. And that’s just what he did.
But too often, kids burn out and never go back, says Chousa. To help avoid burnout, parents can help their kids lead a well-rounded life, rather than focusing solely on sports.
When kids burn out–or long before they do– it’s important for parents to be good role models, and show that they lead balanced lives, says Chousa.
“The best thing we can do is be the best people, take care of ourselves, work on improving ourselves and having hobbies. If we focus on the kid’s sports, it’s too much pressure,” he says.
Sports is just one activity in the life of kids, and it needs to be balanced with other activities and interests.
Parents should point out to sports kids that athletics teach them important life skills, including time management, how to balance sports and school, how to deal with pressure and how to be part of a team.
“They have to see that side of the coin,” says Chousa.
For parents of kids who have high ambitions in sports and start to participate in high-level sports, Chousa suggests couples therapy. He has seen too many parents get divorced when their children don’t meet their sports expectations. Again, he stresses that parents, like their kids, need to seek balance.
“If you think your kid will make it in professional sports, you and your spouse need to go to a therapist or sports psychologist,” he says. “We need to deal with our business, our family, all the other tasks besides sports.”
Parents who fail to find balance and focus too much on sports hurt their kids, says Chousa.
When he was 15, he told his dad to stop coming to his matches.
“He was tough, all my life he was tough. When I came out of a match, he always saw the dark side, the mistakes. Once I beat the number one player in the world (under 18) and he saw the bad side,” Chousa recalls.
Meanwhile, he told his mother to attend his matches, but to refrain from talking.
“It’s good to focus on the good. For every negative comment, share five positive ones,” Chousa advises, sharing a strategy suggested by the Positive Coaching Alliance.
You can listen to the entire interview with Chousa below:
Help Kids in Sports Kick Perfectionism
Nearly every athlete struggles with some form of perfectionism or fear of failure. Kids who look like stars in practice will often choke up or under perform during games or competition.
Other athletes expect too much of themselves—then get frustrated when they don’t meet their high expectations.
Or they’re extremely hard on themselves. In all cases, this causes young athletes to play it safe. They refuse to take the important risks that help them excel and improve their confidence. Suddenly, they’re held back by fear, indecision, and hesitation.
Sports parents and coaches who contact us are bewildered. They watch kids go through this cycle and feel as if they have no clue about how to help their kids.
In fact, rather than supporting their young athletes’ mental game, they often pour salt in the wound, saying and doing things that cause their kids to freeze up even more and become more frustrated, more tense and less productive in sports.
There’s nothing worse than helplessly watching your young athletes fall into the same negative pattern again and again—without knowing what to do about it! It’s so frustrating to stand by while your physically talented athletes lose confidence, wondering how you can help them!
Then you try your best to help, only to discover you have made the problem worse. Your young athletes pressure themselves more, freeze up even more, lose their effectiveness and become more frustrated. They may even blame you for making them feel more pressured.
Now, you can learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence. You can stop guessing about what to do and say to your athlete!
Our program: “Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma: Helping Young Athletes Kick Perfectionism and Fear of Failure,” will walk you through the problem and arm you with practical solutions you can start implementing today.
Makes your role as a sports parent more enjoyable and easier! We tell you how to help your young athletes:
- Let go of mistakes more quickly
- Accept feedback better
- Stop criticizing themselves
- Perform more freely
- Think more creatively
- Stop worrying about what others’ think
- Dramatically improve their performance and attitude in sports
- Improve their confidence in sports
- They, too, will have more fun and reap more rewards.