"Mental Training" for young athletes

Sports success is closely linked to an athlete’s mental toughness. If your young athlete struggles to perform well in competition, is frustrated with their performance, talks about quitting or displays low levels of confidence, counselling can be a very successful tool!

Involvement in sport can build confidence, help children grow and develop healthy relationships with others, and teach them the importance of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, training and competing can also be challenging, confusing and painful for young athletes. Additionally, parents may be unsure of how they can encourage their child in their sport without pressuring them to an unhealthy level.

Children in sport can experience many challenges, and with less developed self-management and psychological skills, these challenges can more difficult to manage. Failure to successfully navigate these challenges can result in child athletes that display: 

  • Less motivation, fun, and keenness to participate in their sport
  • Frustration
  • Lack of confidence
  • Anger
  • Anxiety/Performance Fears
  • Irritability
  • Nightmares and disturbed sleep
  • Negativity
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Physical complaints such as stomach upsets.

Parents and coaches can help children to navigate these environments so they learn and grow. However, sometimes more help is required…this is where sports psychology principals come into play. A trained counsellor can help both parents and children discuss their challenges, understand the mental aspects that are impeding their child's performance, and learn new skills that can help their child in their sport as well as in their daily life.

What young athletes can learn from sports psychology

  • Build confidence 
  • Manage high expectations and beliefs that lead to frustration and discouragement
  • Increase focus 
  • Let go and quickly move on from mistakes
  • Manage distractions and negative self-talk
  • Manage relationships (and associated feelings) with teammates, coaches, and other competitors.

What parents can learn from sports psychology

  • How to boost their child's confidence 
  • How to support their child after a win/loss to promote success in future competition
  • Encourage their athlete to play their best without pressuring them
  • Understand what is holding their child back from a calm and focused performance
  • Apply mental toughness skills to boost performance, make lasting changes, and help their child succeed in sports (and in life!).

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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