Having mental toughness is important for young athletes, as they are prone to outbursts of emotion thanks to their age and inexperience. It is important for adults to help their young charges develop mental toughness, as it will help guide participants in youth sports about overcoming adversity.
One way adults can help is by having young athletes learn from every experience. Sure, losing a game is never fun, but learning from mistakes can make it sting less. If athletes learn to use everything as a learning opportunity, they will be more prepared to succeed in the future.
A second way adults can help is by teaching young athletes not to fear failing. While failure results in not meeting, the goals set before playing a game, as long as the players tried their hardest and played as well as they could, there should be no reason to be ashamed. Rather, the players should be encouraged by a job well done, and asked to continue to try their hardest in the future.
A third way adults can help is by instructing young athletes on how to separate self-worth and performance. All athletes have a down performance every once and a while, but that doesn’t mean they are worth any less as people. They should be encouraged to pick themselves up and try again next time.
A fourth way adults can help is by helping to create healthy and constructive ways to express their emotions. Athletes should be allowed to express disappointment, but not be allowed to wallow in self-pity. Instead of feeling bad for themselves, athletes should become inspired to better themselves for the next opportunity.
A fifth way adults can help is by teaching athletes to communicate honestly with coaches. Parents are right to worry about their young athletes, but it is up to coaches to tell the players how to play properly. As such, players should be taught to be straightforward with coaches, asking any questions they need answering and not hiding anything.
A sixth way parents can help is by teaching that the biggest competition should be between young athletes and themselves, not others. When young athletes are able to visualize, themselves competing against themselves instead of others, working to better previous performances, even the most boring of practices or games can become interesting. This also keeps them from becoming too distraught over losses, since as long as the players did their best, there is something to be proud of.
A seventh way parents can help is by encouraging athletes to be responsible for their performances, both good and bad. Accepting responsibility for bad performances can help athletes grow, and learning to deal with successes can do the same.
An eighth way parents can help is by ensuring that young athletes are enjoying the sport they are playing. After all, youth sports are truly about young athletes learning and having fun, so what’s the point if these things aren’t occurring?
The most positive places for youth athletes for sports training and to learn the importance of mental toughness is STACK Sports in Mahwah, NJ.