14 Feb 3 Sports Psychology Tips for Developing Confident Children

3 Sports Psychology Tips for Developing Confident Children

I want to share with you three simple things you can do to help your children build confidence in sports, social situations and at school. Award-winning writer Lisa Cohn and Youth Sports Psychology expert Dr. Patrick Cohn are co-founders of The Ultimate Sports Parent. They published an article which provides three simple tactics for helping your children develop confidence. As you read through this article keep in mind these tips can be applied to more than sports; you can adapt them to any other activity your children participates in. Enjoy!

Tip #1: Lower Expectations
You might not know that the high expectations of coaches and parents can cause children to feel pressured. Parents and coaches sometimes impose their own expectations on their children, with the intended goal of boosting their offspring’s confidence. But unfortunately, this often has the opposite effect.

For example, when we work with athletes and their parents, we help them understand that strict expectations — parents’ demands on how their children should perform — actually negatively affect the young athlete’s performance.

Athletes who have high levels of self-confidence end up excelling. We all want our athletes to feel fully confident at game time, but we must reel in our own expectations accordingly. Parents’ and coaches’ overly high expectations can cause athletes to focus too much on the results, rather than the experience. This often makes them feel frustrated, especially when they are not performing up to their own (and your) standards.

Tip #2: Watch What You Say
Here’s how it works: In their sincere effort to be supportive, parents and coaches often say things that kids interpret as expectations. For example, a Softball parent might say – with the very best intentions – to an athlete: “You should go 4-for-4 against this pitcher today.”

At first, this statement might appear supportive. It’s what parents should say to improve their athletes’ confidence, right? Wrong.

Many athletes do not interpret such well-meaning input this way. In fact, we have found that young players interpret such statements in surprising ways. Some athletes may think they need to be perfect and get a hit every time at-bat …if they don’t they are letting down their parent or coach.

This might sound like a stretch, but this is how the minds of young athletes work. Children internalize or adopt your high expectations, then become overly concerned or worried about getting a hit every time at-bat out of the fear of letting others down.

Tip #3: Emphasize Process Over Results
Be careful about the expectations you communicate to your young athletes. We suggest you instead identify more manageable goals or objectives that help children focus on the process.

For example, you can ask a Soccer player to maintain proper spacing or lead a teammate when passing. Your players can accomplish these important objectives more often than making a perfect pass every time.

If you as coaches or parents want to help your young athletes achieve their full potential in sports and reap the many benefits, be sure to acquaint yourself with these and many other mental game strategies to improve success.

I hope this gave you some ideas. None of these are earth-shattering techniques, they are simple common sense tips. And more often than not, the simple things usually have the greatest effect.

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