Help Your Child Learn to “Flip the Switch”
For athletes truly in love with the game, competition is addictive. For them, the passion may be so strong that they find it hard to let go of the intensity once the whistle is called. Or, maybe, your child suffers from the opposite mindset: she struggles to shift her competition into high gear when playing youth sports.
If your child is like this, then he must learn the importance of “flipping the switch.”
The ability to flip the switch in sports simply means that your child knows when to give 100% effort and when to put competition aside. This switch is a complex personality shift where the competitor inside the athlete is turned on for the game and turned off after the matchup is over.
Learning to flip the switch in youth sports means more than just getting focused or “in the zone” as many athletes do. Whether that means they isolate themselves before a game, wear headphones to block out the world, or sit in a corner with an angry look on their face -- the signs are all similar. This may be part of their flipping-the-switch process, but it does not necessarily guarantee that they are able to totally prepare.
Like any skill in sports, the ability to flip the switch takes a long time to develop.The goal is for your child’s mentality to become this: I have a job to do and I know how to do it, so let’s get to work. Help your child develop this mentality by encouraging these mental and physical habits:
Which means being in shape, knowing the game, and feeling confident in their skills. This type of preparation gives your child confidence, knowing that she is up to the challenge during youth sports.
Believe it or not, getting tense before a game usually does not help athletes play better. Help your child relax in the car on the way by talking about other things beside sports, or not talking at all. Ask him his favorite pre-game song and play it in the car.
Your own relaxed attitude as a parent can help your child relax as well. And definitely stay away from putting those pressures on them before the game to win or better their stats.
A good sport knows that the opponent is not the enemy, he is just in a different jersey. Good sportsmanship doesn’t mean that your football player doesn’t hit hard, it means that he tackles a player one minute and then offers a hand to help the same player up. Applaud your child when he exhibits aggression and good sportsmanship during youth sports on the same play.
As you encourage this flip the switch skill in your child, I’d encourage you as sports parents to practice it as well. There’s no need to carry the competition past the game.
Youth sports are intended for our enjoyment, so don’t let the stress and drama eclipse that pleasure for you and your child.