Welcome to the Mental Toughness Academy! I’m Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for youth athletes.
Parents always ask me what are the best sports for kids? There is no “right answer and luckily there are so many different sports for kids that parents can choose from to have their kids play.
What is important is choosing something that works for your child’s temperament and idea of fun.
You Can’t Beat Sports For Kids!
Playing sports for kids is a fantastic way for parents to teach focus, discipline, resilience and how to build confidence in a very fun and exciting way. Unfortunately, when coaches don’t understand the psychology of children, or parents let their ego get in the way, kids in sports can actually come away from it with emotional scarring that lasts a lifetime.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of youth sports athletes caught in a war between parents, coaches and league directors all under the guise of “helping”. However, we definitely encourage parents to advocate for their young athlete when it’s called for.
But, what about all those times where the emotional damage is much more subtle? How can a parent make sure that their sports kid is going to take the hard lessons from the game and grow from it?
Here’s an example. Katy was a youth soccer player, who had been playing brilliantly. She was quite the offensive scoring machine for the team, but was still always humble when accepting praise from the coach and other parents. Her mom and dad were thinking everything was going extremely well for her and were grateful for her youth soccer participation.
Unbeknownst to them, however, a couple of the girls on the team were talking behind Katy’s back. They were spreading hurtful lies turning other players against Katy. The more the coaches praised Katy, the worse it got.
So Katy started to slow down on the scoring and became timid bringing the ball down field. The coaches and parents stopped the praise and the girls on her team started to talk to her again.
What Katy learned was excellence has a price she was not willing to pay. She learned this at a young age when her permanent beliefs about life were being formed and she could carry forward into her teen years and beyond.
Her parents noticed her play has fallen off, but they also saw that she seemed happier and so they figured everything was fine.
Kids in sports need to be guided with adult perspectives. As a youth sports parent, you need to constantly be asking your child about their practice, what happened in the game and what their teammates and the coaches are saying.
It is tough, but parents need to try to read between the lines of what their child is saying. Remember, most youth sports coaches are untrained parent volunteers and do not have a clue about how to help kids build confidence or how to spot mental and emotional trouble.
Parents should spend time with their sports kid teaching them how to develop resilience by giving them examples of athletes who have come back from setbacks… like Michael Jordan who was cut from the high school basketball team.
The best thing parents can do is to teach what we call mental toughness. Mental toughness in sports is Focus, Confidence, Determination, and Resilience. These mental strengths are what kids in sports need to have for all those times when the parent isn’t around. Many kids won’t tell you what’s wrong or will say “I don’t know” even when it is clear to you that something is amiss. Our brand of mental performance training ensures that sports for kids is always a positive confidence builder.