Attitude Adjustment: Keeping kids composed, focused and in the moment
By Ker’Shyra Myrick
While pursuing wins and strong performances during the season it’s also important that athletes learn along the way the value of effort, commitment – and supporting teammates, too.
“Research has shown that young athletes enjoy sports when they try hard and when they know they are being supported by parents, coaches and other people,” says Dr. Brandonn Harris, associate professor and program director of the Department of Health Sciences and Kinesiology at Georgia Southern University. “Cheering on teammates and having their teammates cheer them on are some of the main reasons why kids stay committed to sports. There are other things besides winning that young athletes should focus on.”
Regardless if a team is stockpiling wins or going through a rough patch where it has lost several games in a row, reinforcing effort is always a great strategy coaches can employ to keep a child or team encouraged to always try their best.
“Children will always have control over how hard they try,” Harris says. “Trying may or may not be enough for a successful outcome, but the effort and the attitude young athletes take to be present in the moment is always a victory.”
Parents and coaches can help children focus on what they can control.
“Staying committed and having a positive attitude are important regardless of what the scoreboard says,” Harris says. “Young athletes need to know that they can take that same mentality with them in other parts of their lives, such as school work and other organizations they may become involved with.”
This is true even for older athletes who have been competing in sports for several years.
“A great way to teach older youth athletes is by putting them in situations to help them train and learn how to respond to mistakes they make,” Harris says. “How do you keep yourself composed in the moment when it really counts is an important question to address with your athlete. Coaches can be a great guide in helping them work through that. Being present, focusing on the now and staying centered are the best ways to overcome on-field struggles.”
Ole Miss sports psychologist Dr. Josie Nicholson on helping your young athletes deliver positive messages to themselves to perform at their best
Two-time NBA champion coach Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat on helping cultivate youth sports leaders and getting everyone to work together and support each other
Study reveals pervasive lifetime substance use among U.S. adolescents in ninth to 12th grade
Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau encourages volunteer coaches to bring their love of the sport to practice to fuel kids’ life-long passion for playing