The NFL playoffs kicked off this weekend and featured a unique mix of quarterbacks under center for their respective teams. Two of the QBs who started were selected in the final round of the 2022 NFL draft, while five others made their first career playoff start as well. Half of the total starting quarterbacks this week went into their games with zero prior postseason experience, and while only three of them won their matchup, each of them played objectively well. For parents, this display of confidence and execution on the biggest stage of each of these quarterbacks’ careers, offered a teaching moment in the value of keeping composure in high pressure situations.
We’ve recently discussed the zone and the different ways that athletes find their way into it, but that is all so much easier said than done. For young athletes in particular, 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 playoffs for instance. Here are a few tips that parents can offer their young athletes to help them achieve that composure when it matters most.
What are the best ways to help athletes to maintain their composure?
- Controlled breathing
The classic phrase, “take a deep breath” really only goes so far. One deep breath can certainly help to decrease stress and induce calmness, but parents can work on breathing techniques with their athletes so that they can keep that calm, stress-free composure up to and through the big moments in their athletic careers. Sudden stress cannot be fully combated by a single deep breath. Rather, parents should encourage their athletes to focus on steady, controlled breathing throughout the competition. Their breath is something that athletes can control at all times, and in the moments that they need their composure most, having something directly under their control will help to 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. Relieving themselves in the desire 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, of course, 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, and what they have to accomplish on each play, 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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