Perfectionism In Young Athletes
We recently received a note from a parent about how her 10-year-old’s high expectations lead her to give up when faced with adversity.
This is common when a child, like this softball player, has achieved success. She has pitched many perfect games, including at state playoffs, and is always the best batter on her team, says her mom.
Such success often translates to high expectations and perfectionism—traits that can cause kids to behave exactly like this child does:
“As all the kids get older, better people can hit her pitches and field her hits. At the first sign of adversity she gives up and displays horrifying sportsmanship. We have emphasized countless times it’s about trying your best…”
“I am desperate to help her because she’s holding herself back and making it a miserable experience. My husband wants to make her quit but she loves the game. I’d rather attempt to fix the problem than be punitive! And when she shuts down and stops trying it’s when her team needs her the most,” says the player’s mom.
How can parents help kids whose expectations are so high that they shut down when faced with adversity?
First of all, help these kids understand the problems with their high expectations.
In this case, this player apparently wants to pitch perfect games, as she has in the past. That’s a lot to ask of herself!
She needs to understand that such high expectations can make her feel frustrated and undermine her confidence.
Instead of demanding she be perfect on the mound, players should give themselves a break and understand that everyone is human and makes mistakes.
What’s more, sports kids need to stop focusing so much on statistics, and focus on the here-and-now.
To do that, help them identify mini-goals. These smaller, achievable goals will keep them feel more grounded in the moment.
For example, instead of “I have to have a perfect game today,” they could focus on communicating well with teammates or positioning themselves well on the field.
In addition, parents need to check their own behavior.
Are you fueling your players’ perfectionism?
Do you say things like, “Have another perfect game today!” that contribute to your young athletes’ perfectionism?
If so, you need to lower your own expectations and focus on ensuring your athletes are having fun.
Want to learn more about perfectionism, one of the top challenges sports parents and their kids face?
Check out our popular program here that helps young athletes overcome perfectionism and fear of failure:
You’ll learn how to help your young athletes manage their expectations and learn mental game skills that will help them beat their perfectionism and the fears associated with it.
What do parents and coaches say about our resources?
“We really enjoy your emails and are grateful that we found your website. It is so needed. There really isn’t much out there to guide the parent. Thank you for your work. And yes, we have passed on your website to numerous parents.”
~Debbie and Peter C.
We’re here to ensure you help your sports kids overcome the many challenges they face in youth sports—and to make sports enjoyable for them!
Help Young Athletes Overcome Perfectionist Challenges in Sports!
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.
The Sports Parents’ Top Dilemma is a two part program. It includes:
- A 23 page E-book that identifies the challenge, explains why it is harmful to young athletes and gives step-by-stop sports psychology tips for helping kids.
- A 21 page kids’ sports psychology workbook that is intended to help you kids identify beliefs and expectations that are the root of perfectionism.
Now you can learn how to help young athletes overcome the difficult cycle of perfectionism, fear of failure and loss of confidence!
What are parents saying?
“Your Information Had Been So Helpful”
“After listening to a couple of your podcasts and reading your “10 tips to confidence in youth sports,” most of the challenges you make note of apply to my 14-year-old son. He’s got all the physical ability, but the more mistakes he makes, the worse it seems to get. So reading and listening to your information has been so helpful and validates what I have observed in him for the past few months. Thank you so much!”
~Brenda Felder, Everett, WA
Help Your Young Athletes Overcome Self-Doubt In Sports!
The Confident Sports Kid helps young athletes improve confidence quickly and overcome common confidence killers that destroy motivation and fun in sports!
This is a 7-day program for sports parents and kids to boost young athletes’ performance, happiness and success… in sports and life!
The Confident Sports Kid program is actually two programs: one that teaches sports parents how to boost their kids’ confidence, and another that teaches young athletes age 8 to 12 how to improve their self talk, avoid negative thinking, overcome expectations that limit confidence, and much more.
What are parents and coaches saying?
“Each Race He Was More Calm, Composed, And Relaxed”
“I just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful programs. My son Kai was one of the fastest 10 and under swimmers in Southern California and after he “aged up” to the 11-12 group he really lost confidence swimming against the much faster and bigger boys. He started with the Confident Sports Kids series and really enjoyed each and every lesson. He then started the Composed Kid series and built on the important building blocks that he was using from the first series. I so happy to report that Kai was able to swim to best times in each and every event he swam at the biggest and most important meet of the year in So Cal, the Club Championships. Each race he was more calm, composed, and relaxed. The final race was one that he was ranked last and one of his goals was to try for top 16…he was 49th! He cut over 4 seconds off his time ending up in 17th. He was ecstatic to say the least.”