Young Athlete Who Freeze Up During Games

Youth Sports Psychology

Perfectionistic Sports Kids And Mistakes

Sports mom Dawn is grappling with a classic challenge in sports:

Her 10-year-old son is a great baseball player who hits every pitch at practice and in the batting cages. But lately, he just can’t hit a ball during a game, she says.

“We don’t know how to get him to relax and just let it go. The more strikeouts he gets, the more frustrated he gets and acts out,” she writes.

First of all, this athlete is likely a perfectionist. They tend to excel in practice, but freeze up during games.

That’s because they are always focused on improving their skills, but need to let go and trust in their skills when they’re playing.

What’s more, they tend to be hard on themselves if they make mistakes. So they get frustrated, freeze up, and fall into the trap this young athlete has fallen into. He can’t use his skills he shows in practice.

Sports parents and coaches, one of the first things you need to do with these kinds of kids is teach them to play ugly. What? You may ask.

Teach them to play ugly.

You see, they need to understand that they’re not perfect—and no one expects them to be perfect. That means they need to get the job done, even if they don’t feel as if they did it “perfectly.”

In fact, it may even feel ugly because they tripped over their own feet or didn’t put their feet or head or arms in the right place.

To help kids play ugly, you want them to stop practicing and just use what skill they have that day for competition.

You also need to encourage kids to keep their high expectations in check.  They shouldn’t go into a game thinking they are going to go 4 for 4 at the plate.

Instead they need to focus on mini-goals that keep them grounded in the moment. In baseball, that might mean focusing on seeing the ball early when the pitcher releases it, for example.

In addition, you need to tell your kids to “react.” That means trusting their instincts and getting the job done without over-thinking or over-analyzing.

Want to learn more about how to help your kids perform as well in games as they do in practice? Want to learn more about how to help them make the most of their sports experience?

At Kids’ Sports Psychology, we’ve got many resources that help you boost your sports parenting skills and help your kids improve their confidence and success.

*Download a sample e-book today.

*Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
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These issues will cause their concentration and performance to suffer!The Focused Sports Kid helps kids overcome distractions that can hurt their performance in sports.

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