MENTAL FITNESS Why is there a need for sports psychology for young athletes.
When athletes feel confident, they are more readily able to turn sporting potential into superior performance. Conversely, when they feel unsure of themselves, the slightest setback or smallest hurdle can have an inordinate effect on their performance. Nearly 70 per cent of all young athletes drop out of their sports by the time they are 14 years old.
Because sports is no longer fun for them. Playing and competing no longer brings them satisfaction or happiness.Very frequently, we have seen athletes who are performing poorly, because they are burnt out in their chosen sport. In many instances, they are unaware or unwilling to admit this fact. And, frequently, their parents are in denial of the fact that their child is mentally and physically spent. Parents have the power to build your child’s confidence, ensure he or she feels successful and has fun.
In the often high-stakes youth sports scene, it’s not always easy to figure out how to raise a confident, happy young athlete. You face the challenge of coping with the society’s pressure to win, untrained coaches, other parents’ attitudes, and the emotional ups-and-downs your child experiences as an athlete. Add to that the financial costs and time commitment. It’s not surprising many kids feel immense pressure, lose confidence and lack self esteem in the athletic arena.
Need for sports psychology
Many parents and young athletes do not understand how sports psychology can improve a child’s athletic performance. The term ‘Psychology’ often conjures up ideas of illness, rather than ways of improving performance. Sports psychology is part of the larger field of sport science. Sports psychologists study human behaviour in the sport environment and the benefits of mental training.Mental training or ‘mental game coaching’ concentrates on coaching athletes to break through the mental barriers that keep them from performing up to their peak potential. This form of coaching teaches mental skills that instil confidence and success. Mental game coaching seeks to improve performance and enhance consistency in performance.
Self-confidence is not solely in the hands of fate. Even when Lady Luck isn’t shining, You are the person responsible for determining how confident you feel in a sporting encounter. Ideas for promoting confidence range from the simple principles of understanding what causes confidence to wane, to the techniques of visualisation and positive self-talk. We need to learn how to adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude, exploit weaknesses in your opponents and use inspirational music to raise your game. The legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi once quipped, ‘Confidence is contagious …but so is a lack of confidence.’ Six sources of self-confidence.
Six sources of self-confidence
- Performance accomplishments
- Being involved with others’ success
- Verbal persuasion
- Imagery experiences
- Physiological states
- Emotional states
The author is Sports Development and Training Manager, FitnessOne Group India Ltd.