Stress. Pressure. Fear of success. Any number of issues can drain your child’s enthusiasm for participating. Is your young athlete’s motivational tank running on empty?
Some youngsters are extremely self-driven when it comes to sports. They simply can’t get enough of practicing, playing and striving to improve, while others lack the motivation to give it their best every single time they step on the field for a practice or game.
Understanding why your youngster’s motivational tank is running on empty – and what you can do to resolve the issue – is vital for them not only to enjoy their participation in the sport, but how they will approach daily challenges in their life in the future, too.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the areas that can drain a child’s motivation to compete and how you can go about turning things around:
Scared of achievement: It may sound slightly strange, but it’s true that sometimes kids who are progressing in a sport and having lots of success will begin feeling unwanted pressure to live up to these higher standards every time they step on the field. Once they begin associating success with pressure and stress, the potential exists to begin holding back and, eventually, their motivation fizzles.
Take the time to examine the source of the child’s stress. It could be coming from coaches, friends or perhaps even yourself.
Make sure that your comments before games aren’t piling on unwanted stress or putting too many expectations on your youngster that has him or her suddenly fearful if they’ll be able to reach them.
You want to tackle this problem head on and do whatever it takes to eliminate this pressure from a youngster’s life, otherwise it’ll handcuff his or her ability to perform, squeeze the fun out of their experience and suffocate their interest in future participation.
Fearful of committing: Sometimes youngsters hold back on their performance simply out of a fear of learning that their best isn’t good enough. Putting everything you’ve got into an activity, only to learn that there’s someone who’s better, can be pretty disheartening to a child new to the world of sports and competition. While it is a big part of sports – there are always winners and losers in games – it can be a difficult adjustment for some kids. In these instances, it’s important to reinforce to the youngster that scoreboards don’t define players and wins and losses don’t define teams. There is so much more that comprises the youth sports experience, and you’ve got to share that with them.
They need to know, and fully believe, that giving their best effort is what participating is all about and that always striving to improve is really at the essence of being a young athlete. It’s a quality trait that will pay big dividends in all areas of their life in the future – if you are able to plant those seeds now.
Don’t want to outdo older brother or sister: Youngsters who have strong emotional bonds with their older brothers or sisters who participate in the same sport sometimes are reluctant to let their skills shine through, particularly if they sense they’re going to outperform big brother. Of course, a lot of kids can’t wait for the chance to beat their older sibling in a sport, but for some it’s far more complex than that. So, they shove their motivations to the backseat so as not to hurt the feelings of a loved one.
This requires sitting down with your children to let them know that their love for one another doesn’t waver simply by what happens on a court or field. Talk to them about the benefits of pushing one another to succeed; this way everyone comes out ahead and derives a real sense of satisfaction from giving their best.
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