We hear from youth sports parents all the time at the Mental Toughness Academy, who worry that their child, “uses such negative self talk” or “beats her self up all the time”. I think this is an important issue parents need to address.

Negative thoughts and beliefs don’t normally “go away” without perspective and retraining our minds.

Welcome to the Mental Toughness Academy! I’m Wendy Lynne, the Director of the Academy.

Today we wanted to share with you the importance of using positive thoughts in sports and some tips you can use to help your child after a mistake or choke.

The Power of Positive Thoughts In Sports

Parents and children alike often overlook the tremendous influence that positive thinking has both out in the field, and in day-to-day activities. We’re all human and mistakes happen – the key is not to let negative thinking turn into a big monster in the room that crowds out all of the great things you’re capable of doing. I’m going to give you some tips on positive thinking, and how to keep negativity from getting in the way and keeping you form being the very best – in school, in sports, in every aspect of your life.

Negativity Spreads Like A Rash

Have you ever run into someone who was in a lousy mood, and when you were done talking with them, you found yourself sad or angry? Then when someone talks with you, your own negative feelings affect those people, and the chain keeps getting longer, until you look back and see that one bad interaction can result many people with negative outlooks.

Now let’s apply that to team activities. If you miss a play or someone scores a few points off of one of your teammates, that’s disappointing. However, there’s no reason to insult that person or beat yourself up over it. Sports are not only healthy and competitive – they’re supposed to be fun, as well. The easiest way to for a team to fall apart is for one person to be full of negativity. Soon, that negativity will spread and playing the game will no longer seem fun, and nobody will be happy with each other or themselves.

When you are faced with negativity, you need to figure out how to get rid of it, and fast. I’ve put together a few pointers to help keep negativity out of the park so you can focus on the important things, and have fun while doing it.

Turning Negatives Into Positives

Everyone has a bad day now and then. Not everyone hits a homerun every single time they’re up to bat, and excellent grades aren’t just handed out without hard work and studying. Sometimes, you can end up beating yourself up when things go wrong, or saying something you’ll later regret to friends and family when they make mistakes. This is negativity, and as I just mentioned, it’s actually worse than the thing that made you feel bad in the first place.

Think of negativity as a high-pressure game. Someone passes you a ball of negativity, and you have a choice to make: either you can pass it off to someone else and have the opposition bearing down on them, or you can use it to score a point and turn things around.

If you just look at bad things as events and words that make you feel angry and depressed, you will eventually wind up filled with frustration and doubt. What you have to realize is that there is nothing so bad that you cannot use positive thinking to turn it around make i something good and powerful that you can use over and over again.

If you missed a play during a game, think about what happened and you can do to improve your performance on the field. If you got a less than stellar grade in school, figure out what you did, and how to approach the problems differently. Maybe you were concentrating on something other than what was in front of you. Maybe something unexpected happened, so you learn to anticipate certain situations so that you can avoid being caught unawares.

The important thing here is that dwelling on bad things never helped anyone. Applying positive thinking and self talk and learning from mistakes will actually improve your performance in every aspect of your life.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

When you miss scoring a point, your team and your coach see it. Everyone is their own worst critic, and you may find yourself starting to think negatively, before anyone else even says anything to you. Stop and think, because maybe the people around you saw what you could have done differently. Talk with your teammates and your coach. Ask them to go over the play with you after the game or during practice so that you are better prepared the net time around. If you’re worried about something in school or your personal life, don’t be afraid to talk with your teachers and family. Remember, that all of these people want you to be successful, and want to help you to be the best.

In the end, everyone – from your family, to your friendships, and even your team – is looking out for you, because they know the secret to the success in any group activity relies on the success of the individuals involved. They know that negativity never helps anyone, and ultimately it brings down everyone. The best thing to do it put forth positive thoughts. Positive thinking will not only motivate you, but the success you get from it will rub off on those around you, as well. Remember that some kind words and little insight can go a long way in creating an all-star – be it in school, your personal life, or taking home the gold with your team.