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

Coaches, Athletes & Parents LISTEN UP! Dwelling on mistakes during the game or match is a wonderful way to insure that the athlete continues to perform way below his/her potential.

When you, as an athlete get angry at yourself for messing up, when you as the coach get outwardly angry at your players for their miscues, you will set into motion a downward performance spiral. Once a mistake has been made, the most important mental task of the athlete is to LET IT GO!

Getting angry in response to making mistakes does two things for the athlete. First, it increases the stress level and, as a result, tightens the athlete’s muscles. Increased muscles tension in turn, slows a player’s reflexes and foot speed down as well as interfering with smooth, well-timed execution. Second, anger, whether coming from the coach or internally generated by the athlete, distracts his/her focus from what’s important in the performance at that moment. Tight muscles and poor concentration are a powerful one-two punch that will always KO your performance!

So let’s make this simple, coach. When your athletes make mistakes during the game, bite your tongue and sit on your anger. Yelling or screaming at your players is significantly counterproductive and will only cause them to play worse. You can certainly point out what they did wrong, but spend more energy focusing them on what they need to do to correct the mistake, rather than dwelling on the mistake itself. For you as an athlete, once you screw up, leave your mistake in the past. Save it for practice the next day. Beating yourself up for it, getting frustrated with yourself for making it and continuing to dwell on it will mentally take you right out of the game and then many more mistakes will follow! Once you mess up, learn from it as quickly as possible and then leave that mistake behind you!

THE TIME TO WORK ON MISTAKES IS DURING PRACTICE AND NEVER, EVER WHILE THE COMPETITION IS GOING ON! So save your anger and work on getting yourself and your athletes refocused on the task at hand in the NOW of the performance.


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