A National Alliance for Youth Sports resource helping coaches, parents and administrators provide the best youth sports experiences for children.
Forgetfulness: For young athletes it can be a good thing!
By Greg Bach
Forgetting birthdays and anniversaries is a big no-no.
But when it comes to sports, the power to forget is incredibly valuable.
And super important for volunteer coaches to teach their players.
“It’s something we’re talking about all the time,” says Matt Rhule, the head football coach at Temple University. “It’s constantly forgetting about what just happened, flushing what just happened, and moving on.”
It’s a mindset and a process that must be taught and emphasized during your practices.
When you see a youngster make a mistake – and his shoulders sag and his head drops – you’ve got to tell him to forget about it and fully focus on what’s happening next.
If that mentality isn’t forged during practice it’ll never transfer over to Game Days.
And their ability to perform will really be compromised.
STOMP OUT ANXIETY, FLUSH MISTAKES, MOVE ON
Everybody makes mistakes – and of course hates making them.
And when young athletes make them on game days, with all eyes on them, it can be a traumatic, stress-filled experience.
So it’s on coaches to get kids looking ahead rather than being stuck in the muck of a past bad play.
“That’s one of the biggest things that prevents people from being successful is the anxiety that comes from worrying about what you did wrong or what could possibly go wrong,” Rhule says. “We have sort of a mantra here which is very simply whatever just happened – good, bad or neutral – our focus immediately goes on to what the next thing is. We want to try to be great at the next thing. As a coach you have to consistently and constantly coach it.”
CONFIDENCE BUILDING: IT COMES FROM PERFORMING
Building confidence in kids – it’s a challenge for all coaches. But how does it happen?
There are no magical words, or special ways to instill it, Rhule says.
It comes from helping kids perform a skill so they know they are capable of doing it.
“I don’t believe that confidence comes from people telling you that you are doing a good job,” he says. “Confidence to me comes from when you demonstrate that you can do something and you know you can do it and you know you are in control of the situation.”
So work with your players, correcting and encouraging them, and their confidence will grow.
“We just try to keep coaching, teaching and correcting,” Rhule says. “All we’re trying to do is get to the point where they can do it and that’s where true confidence comes from.”
Sending kids home after practice with positive messages fuels confidence and passion for the sport. See how Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery makes it happen with his team and adopt his approach to benefit your players, too
Troy Calhoun, the head football coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy, on helping young athletes learn, improve and savor competing
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