We’ve previously discussed the zone and the different ways that athletes find their way into it. Getting there, though is much easier said than done. For young athletes, keeping composure and finding calmness can be challenging. Especially when they are exposed to high stakes for the first time. A win or go home scenario like this week’s NFL playoffs, for instance. Here are a few tips that parents can offer their young athletes to help them achieve that composure when they need it most.
Best ways to help athletes maintain their composure
The classic suggestion for kids to “take a deep breath” really only goes so far. One deep breath can decrease stress, but parents can work on other breathing techniques with their athletes. Ones that can help maintain calm, stress-free composure up to and through the big moments. Sudden stress cannot be fully combated by a single deep breath. Rather, parents should encourage their athletes to focus on steady, controlled breathing throughout competition. Their breath is one of few things that athletes can control at all times. In the moments when they need their composure most, having something directly under their control will help boost their confidence.
“Just be good”
Striving for perfection is a massive stress inducer, particularly in sports. If parents can convince their young athletes that they can achieve success by just being good, rather than perfect, then the athletes won’t stress small mistakes in big moments as much. Relieving themselves of pressure to be perfect will help athletes to maintain composure when adversity strikes in competition.
Focus on YOU
Keeping composure in competition becomes far more simple when athletes focus on themselves, rather than what others will think of how they play. Instilling this belief in youth athletes can be challenging for a couple of reasons, but will always pay off in terms of individual success. There is no “I” in team, so it’s important to always promote the team when sharing this line of thinking. However, the team can only succeed if each individual succeeds themselves. Whatever role they may be in, if each player remains focused on their job, the team will have a better chance at winning. Further, in individual sports, it will help athletes to maintain their composure if they believe that the opinions of others are meaningless to their success.
Parents play such a crucial role in helping young athletes develop into contributors to both their teams and their communities long after sports are over. Encourage your athlete to practice these three things and their confidence will blossom through composure.
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