Had a few parents recently reach out and ask how they can help their young athletes with managing performance anxiety, unrealistic self expectation and confidence.
Whilst there are whole areas of research and published studies around just these 3 topics, with most young athletes it comes down to some basic thing that all parents can help their young athlete develop.
1. Be honest with them!
They are a child, they have a child's body, and a child's brain.
They haven't fully gone through puberty, some haven't even started yet
They are STARTING a very long journey, one full of ups and downs, there is a vast amount of information on skill and strategy to learn about the game, vast amounts of information to learn and implement about their bodies.
Some days it's going to go well, some days it's going to be a train wreck. THATS OK enjoy the ride.
A parents job is to be the safe space where a child can admit to weakness, admit to struggle, and be reassured not chastised.
The journey of learning a sport is never done, and for kids they aren't a product of their training until they have FINISHED growing.
2. Teach them to meditate
A young athlete must learn and practise the power of breath and visualisation in order to navigate what is to come. Meditation can be a very useful way to do this away from the court.
On court breathing practices like "5-5-5 breathing" can be incredibly helpful in those moments where it all gets a bit overwhelming
3. Confidence is EARNT
Unsurprisingly the more a child practise a skill, the more confident they get at using that skill.
It's not a secret.
Maybe what is a secret,
Is that this growth DOESN'T happen whilst they are physically training with me, nore with another trainer or coach.
It happens when a child is training
ON THEIR OWN
The best way for kids to get better is to spend time really working on it. Paying attention to the details, until they can't get it wrong. And this does not happen when anyone else is around. This happens in isolation where they can really focus and deepen their understanding of what their coach taught them.
4. FAIL lots
There is such a preasure put on kids to be perfect, that they CANNOT deal with failure. In training or in a game. This means that a 13yo misses 1 shot, now their head is down,😔 ofcourse they miss the next one, now they are frustrated,😠 obviously they miss the next, now they are angry 😡
This can't happen if you want to compete in a competitive game, and unfortunately it's learnt at an early age (yes parents).
To move forward at something you must fail at it, learn, fail, learn, fail, learn..........., succeed
The #1 thing I do with every player is empower them to FAIL at every single drill we do. If you got through it without a mistake, you didn't get any better and were wasting time.
5. You don't get to start the conversation
Parents, After training or after a game, PLEASE, don't be the one that starts talking about whatever just happened, good or bad.
Your child needs time for their brain to process what's just happened, if it's training their brain will be processing what has just been worked on, if it's a game the brain will be going back through the last 2hours, digesting what has happened, and learning from it.
When the parent initiates the conversation your blocking the process from happening. And yes, as a coach it's very obvious when this is happening.
When your child is ready to talk about it, they will, and if they don't bring it up, LEAVE IT ALONE.
The journey of learning to be competitive at a sport is magical, but full of ups and downs, made and missed shots, games won or loss on 1 bad decision. But ultimately it is a journey, and it is your child's journey, you are just along for the ride.
Strap in, it's going to get bumpy.
If you would like to discus any of this in more detail about your young athlete, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org