In Choking/Fears/Slumps and Blocks, Coaching: Good/Bad/Unfair, Parents' Role in Youth Sports

As a result of one of my last blogs, “WHY DO ATHLETES MYSTERIOUSLY LOSE THEIR ABILITIES…” I was asked, what do I say to my athlete in order to help them begin to get unstuck and out of “freeze.”

1) “Having problems like yours are absolutely NORMAL and a regular part of competitive sports, REGARDLESS of what others may say to you!”

COACHES & PARENTS: You must treat them with the belief that it IS normal!

2) “As you struggle with this, you MUST be kind and patient with yourself, YOU MUST BE A GOOD “INNER COACH,” because getting angry and frustrated with yourself for your struggles will only make things that much worse.

COACHES & PARENTS: You must show kindness and patience in ALL of your interactions, regardless of how long the problem persists.

3) “Being a good ‘inner coach’ to yourself doesn’t mean that you say, ‘You got this! You can do it! You’ve done it before!’ Instead, you should be saying to yourself, “It’s OK that I am having trouble. It’s normal! I will allow myself to take as much time as I need to, to get through this.”

COACHES & PARENTS: You should be repeatedly saying this to the athlete over and over again. AND, you can add, “I believe in you AND we will take as much time as YOU NEED to get through this.

4) “The smallest improvements as you work through this problem are CRITICALLY important, even if you’re not yet back to where you want to be. Expect and ACCEPT that you will take ‘two steps forward, one step back,’ before you feel like your ‘old self’ again.”

COACHES & PARENTS: ACCEPT THIS! Your attitude towards this, “two steps forward, one step back” process will make or break how quickly the athlete moves through this. You must practice catching your chid-athlete doing things RIGHT


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