Sports Psychology Tips: 5 Tips for Parents To Help Their Children Perform with Confidence
Gaining control of a stressful situation
Watching your children perform can be emotionally draining
On a regular basis I am asked many questions by parents that relating to playing sport with confidence. Below are some common questions with some short tips to best support your sons and daughters.
1. How should I interact with my daughter before, during and after tennis practice or matches?
I’d look to have conversations with your children when everyone is calm on a day that they may not be practicing or competing. Find out what they want from you. What they prefer. Some children find their parents are a distraction and make them nervous while others love their parents around. Some children feel resentful if parents are present yet on the mobile phones or tablets when they’re playing, other children again don’t mind. So from my experience the key thing is open communication, regularly talking about what your child needs from you as a parent and empowering the child to have a part to play in the decision making process. Note that their wishes may change from time to time, so a one off conversation won’t be enough.
2. I’m not sure if my son really wants to be playing cricket. One day he seems to love it then next he’s not happy and doesn’t want to go. What should I do?
Children play sports for many reasons. Some love competing, others enjoy the social aspect and having fun with their friends. Others play because their friends do or because it’s something their parents are involved in. It’s important to consider he wants from sport and what your agenda is too. Why do you want your children to play sport? Do you want them simply to have fun? Or be good at sport so that they feel good? You may feel that his reasons for playing are very different to yours when you dig deeper.
Check out the resources that I have available to help you with this, you’ll note towards the bottom of the page some quiz’s. Take some time out with your children to explore this, after all self-motivation is what you are looking for from your children. Where they want to practice and compete for themselves and not because they want to do it for you or to please a coach.
3. How can I help give my child confidence? They often train really well but get very anxious when playing matches.
Consider your reactions around their sport. Do you get caught up in the excitement and uncertainty of it all? Sport after all elicits a lot of emotions and throw into the mix a person(s) that you care for deeply and worry about, it can be very easy to lose control of your emotions. Especially when difficult situations can be thrown at you such as when they make mistakes or lose certain skills and get upset.
If you as a parent or carer become too serious, angry, annoyed, frustrated or uptight, your child may pick up on this and go on to model your behaviour. In order to perform well in any sport, and transfer skills from practice to competition being focused yet relaxed and positive are a must. Being able to approach sport fearlessly and carefree are also important. Consider if your behaviours and responses as a parent or carer are in line with these points.
4. My daughter seems to be very cautious when she plays football matches and often just stares at us from the sidelines, looking lost, how can we help her? In training she is very different, it’s very difficult to watch.
As a parent or a coach this can be very tough to deal with. The natural tendency is to think that you must coach her and tell her what to do. Pointing out technical or tactical things when she is playing. However, it could be that she has received too much information from her coach at the start of the game. She may also be bombarded with details during the match too from the sidelines or from team-mates so she ends up playing many matches in a state of overwhelm. If you consider that the average person only can hold a set of 7 digits in their working memory at any given time this may be one of the issues. My advice would be resist coaching her until the match is over and just let her play.
5. My son plays academy football in the under 15’s for a professional club. He’s a striker who has lost his way. He feels the burden of the team playing up front and takes it personally if his team doesn’t win. How can I help him?
As a player, coach, parent or carer you will all want to win, after all losing can be difficult to take. I’d consider sitting down with him and asking him what he does when he is at is best. For example, he may move well. He may ask for the ball a lot. Helping him to focus on the important ingredients that impact on his best performances and on the process. A here and now focus, a next minute focus will help him free himself up. For more ideas on this topic you may wish to read the following case study.
If you enjoyed reading this post and would like to learn more about sports psychology in youth sports why not get in touch or sign up to the Mental Edge for regular tips and advice.
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Global Sports Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.
Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub. With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.
T: +44 7734 697769
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