Most parents want their children to enjoy sports and to do as well as they can when they participate and when they compete.
“Every day, I get calls from parents who feel their children are not performing up to their potential. The kids are choking, frustrated and lacking in confidence and focus.
Parents are frustrated and so are their children, says Dr. Jay Granat.
There are a number of simple steps parents can take to help their kids enjoy sports and do well at sports.
Do what you can to make sure that your child is having a positive experience with his or her coaches and teammates. The wrong coach can turn a child off to a sport or to
sports in general. Similarly, conflicts with other kids and peer pressure can make a sport quite unpleasant for a youngster. Parents need to help their children to resolve these
interpersonal issues, and in some instances, they need to intervene or intercede on their
Determine if your child seems better suited for team sports or for individual sports. Some kids love the camaraderie of team sports. Others like to compete on their own. And of course, some kids like both. One of my patients found that she loved tennis much more than softball because she enjoyed being out there on her own. By the way, she is now a nationally ranked tennis player.
Be aware of burn out. If your child has lost some of his or her enthusiasm and you notice that he or she is performing, your youngster may be suffering from burn out. Talk to them and see if they need a break, a new challenge, a new kind of motivation or a different approach to their sport.
Lots of kids have difficulty managing busy schedules which include games, practice, travel, cross training, fitness training, speed training, family activities and school work. In many instances, the parents and their kids are spread quite thin and are quite overwhelmed due to over scheduling. Help your child and your family find a balance and make sure they do not have too much on their young plates.
After a game, ask your youngster these questions: Did you have a good time?
What did you learn about your sport today? What did you learn about your teammates?
What did you learn about from your coaches?
Make sure your child knows that they are loved whether they perform well or perform poorly.
Ask your youngster is he or she likes having you at his her game. Some kids do and some do not.. Also, this may change as your child grows. My own son, asked me not come to some of his games when he competed during high school.
At first, I felt bad about this, but when I reflected on it, I was happy that he was growing, maturing and “owning his sport.”
Is your child an elite athlete? Elite athletes often show mature talent and
exceptional drive early 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.
While there are some children who can excel at several sports, most top athletes who are thinking about Division I colleges, The Olympics or being a professional, focus on one sport today. If your child is an elite athlete, you will discover that the age of specialization has now crept into sports. For instance, today, top baseball players don’t just get a baseball coach. They get a second base coach, a hitting coach and a pitching coach.
If your child wants to achieve a high level of success at sports, it is essential that the coach, the youngster and you have a good working relationship. I frequently intervene to help everyone to get on the same page. Once everyone is working as a team, the young athlete tends to feel better and perform better.
Expect to have different coaches and trainers during the course of your kid’s athletic career. This is normal. Be open to switching coaches because different mentors 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. A change just might be what the child needs to continue to improve and to grow in his or her sport.
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 in a self-defeating manner 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. It is wise to expose your child to mental toughness training early in their sporting careers.
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.
If you have any questions about helping your child with his or her sports, feel free to call Dr. Jay Granat at 888 580-ZONE or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Granat is a psychotherapist, author and the Founder of StayInTheZone.com
He has been featured in many major media outlets including The New York Times and Good Morning America..