Sports Psychology: How To Help Your Child Succeed At Sports

How To Help Your Child Succeed At Sports

 

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.

 

 

           Sports play a huge role in our society.  What are some of the things that

 

parents can do to help their kids to enjoy sports and to succeed at sports?

 

1.

 

            Do what you can to make sure that your child is having a positive experience

 

with coaches and with teammates.  The wrong coach can turn a kid off

 

 to a sport or to sports in general.  Similarly, conflicts with teammates

 

 and peer pressure can make sports quite unpleasant.  You need to help

 

 your child work out these interpersonal issues, and in some instances, you

 

  will need to intervene or intercede on his or her behalf.

 

 

2.

 

     Try to determine if your child seems better suited for team sports or

 

for individual sports.  Some kids love the camaraderie of team sports.

 

Others enjoy competing on their own.  And of course, some kids like both.

 

 

3.

 

      Your children learn a lot by watching and by observing you and your

 

spouse.  Be sure to model good sportsmanship, grace, gentleness and

 

integrity on and off the athletic field.  We have all read the horror stories

 

about violent sports parents who are out of control on the soccer field,

 

the baseball diamond, in the basketball gym or at the hockey rink.  If you

 

 

behave inappropriately at these venues, your children are apt to do the same

 

thing. 

 

 

4.

 

 

        Lots of kids have difficulty managing the busy schedules which

 

include games, practices, travel, cross training, family activities and

 

school work.  In many instances, the parents and their kids are spread

 

quite thin and are quite overwhelmed.

 

   Help your child to find a balance and make sure that they do not have

 

too much on their plates.

 

5.

 

    

       Be aware of burn out.   If your child has lost some of his her

 

enthusiasm and his or her performance has declined, your youngster 

 

may be burnt out.  Talk with them and see if they need a break, a new

 

challenge, a different approach to their sport or a new sport.

 

 

6.

 

     Is your child an elite athlete?  Elite athletes often show mature talent and

 

exceptional drive earl on.  I counsel many athletes who

 

fall into this category and they usually report loving their sport at an

 

early age.  They love practice and they usually can compete successfully

 

with kids who are a few years older than they are. 

 

 

 

 7.

 

        If your child is an elite athlete, you will discover that the age of

 

specialization has now crept into sports.  While there are some children

 

who can excel at several sports, most top athletes focus on one today.

 

     In addition, baseball players don’t just get a baseball coach.  They get a

 

second base coach, a hitting coach and a pitching coach.

 

 

                                                              8.

 

           If your child wants to achieve a high level of success at sports,

 

it is important the coach, the youngster and you have a good working

 

relationship.   I frequently intervene to help everyone to get on the

 

same page.

 

                                                              9.

 

           Expect to have different coaches and trainers during the course

 

of your kid’s athletic career.  This is normal.  Be open to switching because

 

different coaches teach different things and they call all have a positive impact

 

on your youngster.  If you and your child and the coach are in constant

 

friction, something is wrong and it needs to fixed.

 

 

10.

 

        Many young and talented athletes are clueless about the mental

 

aspects of their sport.  For example, I counseled a very talented tennis

 

player who knew zero about the strategy of the game and less about

 

her own psychological strengths and weaknesses.  I was a bit shocked

 

at how weak her mental skills were, since her mother owned and ran

 

a successful tennis facility.

 

          Similarly, I have seen hundreds of very talented young golfers

 

who can hit the ball great on the range but who fall apart on the course.

 

          Likewise, many baseball players with great swings can not hit in

 

game conditions  because they think very poorly about the game, the

 

count and about themselves when they step up to the plate.

 

          If you want your child to excel at sports they need to learn to

 

understand the strategy as well as the internal mental aspects of

 

their sport.  

 

11.

 

         Do whatever you can to teach your child to be relaxed, confident, focused

 

and optimistic on and off the court.  Show them how to manage the successes

 

and the setbacks.

 

 

 

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a Psychotherapist and the Founder of www.StayInTheZone.com.  He is the author of a new book, Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute and many other programs for athletes, parents and coaches.

He can be reached at info@stayinthezone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Granat

About Dr. Granat

Since 1978, Dr. Granat has counseled thousands of highly competitive athletes from many different sports. His clients have included golfers, tennis players, bowlers, runners, boxers, baseball players, basketball players, pool players, hockey players, ice skaters, wrestlers, fencers and martial artists. (Satisfied Clients) on this site. Now athletes who are struggling with choking, nervousness, lack of confidence, negative thoughts, self-doubt, lack of energy or concentration problems can get the help they need to excel in their respective sport by phone.
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