Welcome to the Mental Toughness Academy! I’m Craig Sigl, the Mental Toughness Trainer for youth athletes. I was recently asked to write an article for The Washington Coaching Magazine on youth coaching tips. I wanted to share the information with you, because I know a lot of you are coaches as well as sports parents.
If you have any of your own tips to share I would love you to include them in the comments below!
Youth Sports Coaches, Are You Stumped When It Comes To The Emotional Side Of The Game?
Listen here: Youth Coaching Tips
You’ve only got so much time to teach the fundamentals, to implement the drills and workouts, to guide the teamwork and leadership into a cohesive unit, and to make sure everyone (including the parents) are where they are supposed to be at event time, warmed up and ready to compete!
It would be nice if we could just be a coach, right? Well, I’ve got news for you…If you’ve done this work for any significant amount of time, you know that you also have to wear the hats of mentor and sports psychologist for your athletes.
Let me give you a couple shortcuts on how to get the biggest returns (performance) for the least amount of effort on your part. Let’s face it, we are all in a big time crunch out there and it’s to your winning advantage when you can turn around an athlete from “head case” to “mental toughness” in minutes.
Use your authority power to boost their ego. Everyone has an ego and loves getting that boost. You’ve also got to always keep in mind that problems at home transfer over to the sport. Forgetting this is probably the biggest reason for coaches not getting everything out of an athlete that they are capable of.
Sports has this cultural history starting from the days of Vince Lombardi when he said things like:
“To achieve success, whatever the job we have, we must pay a price.”
Kids (and adults) these days have much more pressure and complex problems than we did. The quickest way to help them bypass their problems and put their energy into their sport is to help them transcend their home problems and leave them on the sidelines.
Adults are constantly telling me that they had a coach in their lives that influenced them more than their parents. Most young athletes look at their coaches like a Greek god – you have the power to influence!
You can do more to improve your athlete’s performance with a 2-minute conversation than weeks of drills if it goes something like this:
Coach: (looking right in the eye and speaking in an empathetic tone) Jones, I can tell something’s going on with you. How can I support you?
Athlete: Well coach, I’ve got a lot on my mind. I haven’t done as well as I like and stuff is going on in my personal life.
Coach: Listen Jones, I hear you and let me tell you something… Whatever your problems are, they can be overcome. All you have to do is believe in yourself and I’m going to get you started right now.
I believe in you! I think you have the potential to be one of the best. I know that if you find the strength to succeed here in (sport), then you will know that you have the ability to overcome anything else. I know you have it in you. I’ve seen you do some amazing things (name the specifics).
I really believe in you Jones! (make your athlete FEEL your words and he/she will reward you with performance like you won’t believe).
If you need more help in sorting out your personal life…(you’ve got some options here)
For now, how about putting the personal stuff aside and show me why I believe in you!?
For some strange reason, coaches rarely do this kind of thing and it is so effective!
Your athlete is a human being with all sorts of things going on in his/her life. These are kids who have not figured out their identity or their personal power and are going through all sorts of crazy changes. It’s to your advantage to listen to and address these issues without feeling like you have to solve all of their problems. You don’t.
I think the only thing that holds coaches back from doing more of this is the idea that they think they don’t need to! Well, the fact is the more you do it, the better the performance.
Be flexible and let go of your ego. This is the hallmark of all therapists and what it means is that you have to be what your athlete needs you to be at any given moment if you want their peak performance.
In other words, you will be 10 times more effective if you don’t try to force every athlete to go along with your model of the world. Yes, that’s what you do at the professional levels, because there is more talent than positions and everyone is expendable.
Instead, seek to listen to what is going on inside their head and ask yourself: “what does this person need to hear from me right now to make him/her feel powerful and confident and give me their all?”
What most coaches do is they hear a problem, check into their memory banks and they ask themselves: “what has worked in the past?” and then they apply it without thinking.
Every athlete is different and unique! Slow down, open up your possibilities and trust your intuition to say “just the right thing” instead of going with knee-jerk pat responses you’ve always used. Stop trying to force square blocks into round holes!
Your way isn’t always the most efficient way. Managers at big corporations have long ago learned that each employee responds to different motivational techniques. Take a clue from the business world here as billions have been spent on getting greater productivity from humans….and your athletes are humans.
You hold a magic wand as someone they look up to. Time to start using it!
And that’s just the beginning of learning of mental toughness and youth coaching tips. If you want that competitive advantage for your young athletes, click here for free video training to turbo-charge confidence, build resiliency, and learn life skills through participation in sports.
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