Often in sports, more emphasis is placed on physical ability. However, an athlete’s mentality is just as important.
Mental toughness is what distinguishes good athletes from the great ones. When faced with adversity, athletes can keep pushing forward with the right mindset.
For parents and coaches of children in sports, fostering mental toughness from a young age is critical. It’s not just for the sake of sports, but something that will help them in all areas of their lives.
What Is Mental Toughness?
Someone could be considered mentally tough if they have:
- The ability to handle pressure
It’s all about focusing on your goals, recovering from setbacks, and having confidence in yourself. Mental toughness is basically the mind’s ability to be unfazed, composed, and motivated even in challenging situations.
This is why it is so important for kids to develop these skills, whether or not they go on to be athletes as adults. But how do you teach them these skills?
3 Ways To Teach Mental Toughness To Young Athletes
Practice, Not Perfection
Kids can become discouraged if they feel too much pressure to succeed
Effort is more important than winning a game
Young athletes can feel a huge pressure to be perfect in order to please their parents or coaches. However, this can lead to a lot of anxiety, discouragement, and resentment for their sport.
As a parent or coach, emphasize the importance of practice and progress, rather than perfection. Every game that they put their effort into is a step forward. True effort is much more important than winning.
The Importance of Failure
Our society nowadays is obsessed with success, which makes people so afraid of failure. However, setbacks are inevitable. Teach your kids that failing is not the end of the world, but rather a learning opportunity.
Every missed shot or lost match is a chance to learn, adapt, and grow stronger. Encouraging this perspective will help build resilience in your child.
Words are powerful, and the way your child talks to themselves plays a role in their self-worth. If you notice your child talking negatively about themselves, redirect it to a more positive narrative.
The way you communicate with your child is equally important. The words you use today become their beliefs about themselves tomorrow. So, uplift them, praise their efforts, and build up their confidence.