In Coaching: Good/Bad/Unfair, Parents' Role in Youth Sports, Problems in Youth Sports, Winning/Losing

There’s an important, little known, Zen-like rule in sports: The more you focus on an outcome, i.e. needing to win or beating an opponent, then the less chance that will happen while the less you focus on a particular outcome and instead, concentrate on the moment by moment process of the experience, the more likelihood that you will achieve that desired outcome!

I repeat this rule here because far too many coaches and parents of athletes mistakenly believe that by getting their athletes to understand what’s at stake and how important doing well in this competition is, then the athlete will focus and perform better. NOTHING CAN BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

Reminding an athlete about how critical a win is or how much money mom and dad have been investing and why the athlete needs to “produce” here and now will distract that individual from the proper focus, tighten their muscles until they’re non-functional and weigh them down mentally and emotionally. The end result is predictable: There will be far too much at stake for the athlete to relax and perform to their natural capabilities.

Winning and performing to your potential will always happen by itself when and ONLY WHEN the athlete is physically and mentally loose, unencumbered by worries about the outcome and completely focused on the performance in the NOW. This is a peak performance rule that I have written about many, many times yet it seems to be consistently overlooked by a lot of coaches and parents!

YOU CAN’T GET TO THE DESTINATION WHILE YOU ARE COMPETING BY FOCUSING ON THE DESTINATION! Instead, you must focus on the right roads and small twists and turns that are right in front of you RIGHT NOW and all along the way! When you do this, your goals will be waiting there for you at the end of regulation.

So if you’re a coach and you really want the win, STOP talking about the outcome on the day of competition and instead focus your athletes specifically on how to get there, one step at a time! If you’re a parent and you really want your child to win, then chances are really good that you are over-invested in their sport and need to relax, back off and let them have ownership of it! Your over-investment in their sport will both directly and indirectly fuel their tendency to get too caught up in the outcome.


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