Youth Sports Success: Two Hurdles and How to Clear Them

The biggest obstacles to your child’s success in youth sports have nothing to do with the weather, officiating or opponents. (And, P.S.: Those obstacles have less to do with the coach, the team or the league than we like to think.) The true obstacles come from within.

Everyone has heard sports success is 80% mental and 20% physical. I once heard an expert say that it’s even closer to being 100% mental. Whatever the number, the fact remains: In order to win in the game, your child has to win in their head.

So what is it that actually holds your child back from achieving their goals and the success they desire?

Your child is focusing on the what, and not the how.

Maybe it’s the championship they want to win, the team they want to make or the award they want to win. Encourage children to think more about HOW they are going to reach those goals.

It’s easy for kids to get discouraged because they do not see progress fast enough. Yet by paying more attention to the HOW, they will be working to improve the skills and mindset that will eventually help them reach any goal—not just the immediate one.

Help children understand that even when a goal can be set, it’s still a moving target; yet the HOW can provide the tools to help them reach and clear new challenges as they emerge.

Your child ignores the importance of small decisions.

Kids are guilty of the same thing that many adults are afraid of: They wrongly conclude small decisions don’t matter. They may think: Small decisions aren’t going to make any difference, or, Small bad decisions don’t matter much either.

But that’s just not true. Our life is a sum total of every small decision—good or bad. The decision to spend that extra 20-30 minutes shooting baskets each day, for example, will have long-term rewards. And the decision to drink that soda each day before practice will do nothing to help your child play their best.

Here’s what your child needs to understand: It’s the things that no one sees that bring the results everyone wants.


Janis B. Meredith is a life coach for sports parents. Learn more about how she helps parents:

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