Most of the world’s best didn't get to the top by luck. It took many years of hard work, preparation, and sacrifice. Here are a few tips to help you reach the top, whatever your next challenge may be.
1. Do frequent mental dress rehearsals: Whether you've already done the course, given the presentation, or pursued this dream before, frequently envision yourself achieving your goals and how you want to perform at each phase. Include breathing techniques, cue words, and a plan to help you stay positive for each step of the way. Doing this will create a "been there done that" attitude and atmosphere, so when the day comes, you'll be ahead of the game.
2. Have a Plan B. Or even a Plan C: Preparation should include planning for what you expect to happen as well as things you might not expect. Embracing adversity as opportunities for growth and planning for the unexpected will help you feel prepared no matter what happens.
3. Keep track of your goals: Have long term goals that are your motivators. Set training goals to help you achieve your objective, make the process smoother, and give you direction. Stay process oriented while keeping your overall objective in mind. It's okay to shoot for the stars! But you can only reach the stars by putting in the work each day. Evaluate after each week of training and be prepared to make adjustments. Goals should adapt as you keep improving.
4. The right self-talk is key: How you talk to yourself plays an important role in how you'll perform. Negative inner dialogue is normal and will happen, so rephrase it to something more positive and helpful. Develop a thought stopping cue and start a self-talk log to prepare for how you'll combat negative language when it happens.
5. Have fun! Remember why you're there, because you love what you do! If or when your training gets old and tiring, remember why you’re there and bring back the fun! Listen to your favorite songs, wear a fun outfit one day, start or join a training group you love to be with. Whatever it is, make sure it works for you!!
Stress is a common experience and as adults, it’s a lot easier for us to identify and cope with it.
For kids, it’s a different story. While age and personality play a role in how a young person handles stress, often times they aren’t sure that what they’re feeling is stress, what’s causing it, and haven’t yet mastered how to talk about and/or cope with it.
To recognize stress in youth, it’s important to first be aware that there can be both good stress and bad stress. Good stress means it can help the body be ready to perform by acting as a positive “jump start” to an young athlete’s body and mind. Excitement or butterflies can be perceived as good stress.
On the other hand, negative stress can be detrimental to performance and distract a young athlete’s focus and concentration. This type of stress can manifest in two ways:
Possible Causes of Negative Sports Stress in Youth
Below, you will find some suggestions to increase your awareness about youth sports stress and how you help.
Keeping your expectations in check can help kids manage their stress. Pushing them too hard to perform well often leads them to under-perform, have lower self-confidence, or be focusing on the wrong things. Ask yourself, am I asking too much?
Help kids stay process driven rather then outcome driven. Having them focus on the next play or one shot at a time will allow them to stay in the moment, have fun, and worry less about their overall performance or external expectations.
Check your body language and tone during good moments as well as not so good ones. What message is it sending? Do your words and your body language match up? Kids are more intuitive then we give them credit for, and they will pick up on mixed messages right away.
Embrace adversity. They’re kids and they’re supposed to make mistakes. Talk about those mistakes as positive, teachable moments to help reduce the stress youth may feel after “messing up.”
Ask more process related questions. What was most fun today? What did you learn? What didn’t you like about today? What do you want to try to do next time? Do you feel like you tried your hardest today?
Try to avoid outcome driven questions like “Did you win?” or “Did you score?” Asking only outcome-based questions suggests to youth that you are only interested in whether they won or scored, and their self-esteem can become wrapped up in that. It’s important to avoid causing extra stress in youngsters by suggesting to them the only things that matter are stats and outcome.
Set up boundaries for how and when you talk to young people after performing. Some follow the rule 5 minutes only immediately following a game or practice; others wait 60 minutes post performance to talk to their youngsters. Talking too much or too long to youth about how they did or what you think they could do better can create a stressful environment for them; something they dread post-game.
Talk about winning and learning. Rather then always winning and losing, what about winning and learning. Wanting to win is okay! But winning is not everything. Discuss losing, but phrase it in a way that emphasizes learning. Creating a healthy outlook about outcomes with youngsters can help them maintain a great perspective no matter what happens.
Make sure they are having fun! If you ask a youngster why they play that sport, most will tell you because it’s fun! Fun should be one of, if not the most important part of youth sports participation. Fun helps eliminate stress, so check in regularly to make sure they are still having fun, and that you are too.
Katie (McKee) Lovallo
Hey! I'm Katie, and I specialize in Mental Performance. I believe greatly in mindset and the role it plays in life.