Listen – Disappointment is normal when faced with defeat. Celebrating a win is normal too. Let your young athletes experience the situation in the moment, but don’t allow them to catastrophize it. If they’re receptive, help them acknowledge any disappointment and accept their imperfection. Don’t criticize, offer advice or blame others and use neutral, nonjudgmental questions to spark discussion.
Reframe the situation – If your young athlete gets stuck in a negative mindset, help them shift their perspective. Remind them that failure is what helps everyone become better, and that tomorrow, they will be better.
Identify positive next steps – Help your young athletes identify a tangible next step to improve their performance. Offer encouragement and help them maintain a hopeful, positive outlook.
Failure can seem catastrophic. Magnifying or distorting fear of failure makes athletes, especially young, budding athletes, vulnerable to stress and anxiety. Overreacting to disappointment does too. Both can result in underperformance—exactly what they are trying to avoid!
Thankfully, resilience isn’t a genetic trait. It’s a set of thoughts, behaviors and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone, including the kindergartners. In fact, developing this skill early in life is easier because there are fewer bad habits to unlearn.
As a parent or coach, helping young athletes develop resilience is just as critical as helping them perfect sport-specific skills. It will improve their athletic performance and allow them to progress faster. It’s also a skill set that will serve them off the field, for the rest of their lives. The ability to express disappointment while remaining emotionally balanced is a common characteristic among leaders, regardless of the endeavor.
Our thoughts are made up of words. Language is at the heart of our thinking and allows us to recognize how our words influence our thoughts, our feelings, and subsequently our behaviors. Rather than looking at all possible words that are available, it is much more efficient to focus on a few key words that significantly drive our thoughts and actions.
We examine the impact the car ride home from practice can have on the parent-child relationship, and the Childs athletic performance.