“Hard is good. When you’re going through the hard stuff, that’s when you know you are growing.”
As adults, we have all our life experiences to understand the context of this quote, but what about our young female athletes? How do we help them handle the pressure of sports?
Today, we’re joined by one of our sports moms, Ashley. Ashley is a certified soccer mom with her twin daughters both playing soccer.
Here is Ashley’s sports mom’s journey and her insights into teaching her female athletes how to handle pressure and be consistently confident.
How’s your and your daughters’ sports journey?
My twin daughters, Ava and Addison just turned 11 years old. They will be starting sixth grade, and they both play competitive soccer on the same team. My girls started soccer when they were young, and they’ve been consistent with this sport ever since.
Sports became such an important part of their lives, on and off the field. I’ve noticed them grow into confident young ladies through sports. And they’ve learned how to deal with some difficult things at a very young age.
Why did you decide to work on their mental game?
One of the main reasons why we wanted to join ECP was to give them a solid foundation and more of the tools they might need to handle pressure. I want them to have the skills in advance and the ability to deal with it, not just in sports, but also in school and their other relationships.
The goalkeeper is one of the most demanding positions in soccer. One of my daughters is a goalkeeper, and I didn’t want her to be in a situation where she wouldn’t be able to handle the strain that was being put on her.
I wanted her to be able to breathe, take a step back, and have some of those skills to deal with it. I’d hate to see her crumble when I hadn’t done anything to prepare her for it.
It would be nice to know how I can best help them, especially at times when I struggle to find my role as a mom vs. as a team manager. I want to learn how to step back, be an encouragement, and learn what to say before and after the game to optimize their performance.
I believe that adults, whether they are coaches, parents, or trainers, just need to understand how to get the best performance out of the athletes and how to help kids cope when they don’t perform as well as they would want.
Those difficulties happen a lot. And that’s one of the reasons why we love sports. It’s like the perfect playing field for life and the disappointments that are gonna happen.
What did you start to notice in your daughters when they started working on their mental game?
They became more self-aware and acquired a process to navigate through their way of thinking.
They’ve learned more about what confidence means. And they already have the skill set that’s valuable on the field. I’ve also learned how to help them accept disappointment, as well as accept doing well, and getting some accolades for that when they do.
They now know how they can use their mind to help themselves daily through sports and in school.
That’s such a valuable thing to learn at a young age. Because once they get to like 16, 17, and 18, they’ve potentially been playing and living with limiting thoughts about themselves for, you know, seven, eight years at this point.
And so now my girls get the gift of being able to recognize and be aware of what they’re thinking and not take on some of those things and, and realize that they have a choice of what they can think and what they can let go.
As a mom, what did you start to notice in yourself after working on your mental skills?
When we went through the ECP program, I watched the modules with my daughters. I talked to them about it. I was probably a lot more hands-on. And it just allowed me to learn about the topics as well.
I think I have been more aware and thoughtful about my way of thinking and how I show up. I remember the quote that you sent out last week and it stuck with me, it said, “Confidence is not thinking you’re better than everybody else. When you walk in the room, it’s walking in a room, not even comparing yourself to somebody else.”
It’s something that I worked on with the girls, it’s the same thought with, “You don’t wanna make yourself feel better than everybody else, You just don’t wanna have to even compare yourselves to them.”
And it’s especially beneficial for kids to participate in sports at a young age since that’s where their disappointment is often felt, and they may grow and learn from those experiences. ECP simply provided me with a more constructive method to discuss it with them.
What do you think is the most impactful part of this journey?
Just looking back at how much they’ve grown gives the most impact on this journey to me.
They’re taking on more leadership roles in the friendships they’re in. As I’ve observed from them over the last week, they’re secure in who they are. I believe they are also self-assured since they have each other and they’re twins. So, they’re aware that someone else has their back, and they’re using that knowledge to benefit others. They are assisting friends who are experiencing difficulties in difficult situations. They’re assisting new students in settling in. They’re utilizing their confidence to help others.
Looking forward, what do you anticipate in the future?
They have a long way to go. Middle school, high school, private clubs. I don’t know exactly where they’re gonna end up, but I’m just excited to be on that journey and encouraging them.
From your perspective, what do you think your daughters liked most about the program?
I think it’s the part where they learned how to be encouraged. They love the part that helps them to be more focused on the process instead of being pressured by the outcome. Being more thoughtful of the process is the foundation of working through things you’re struggling with.
I love how they’re able to learn this before getting on to the next level. With the right tools, they’ll be more confident once they get to the next level of their sport if they choose to.
What would you tell other moms, especially other moms of younger athletes who are considering joining ECP?
We can go through the motions, and they can either be successful or not. But if we take the time to reflect on it and see working on their mental game as an opportunity to grow, we may see so much more value in the process.
How did you get the girls on board to do this?
Because of the pandemic, the physical training we could do became limited. So, I thought about what they needed and what could be of value during this time.
There was all the change with school, and covid, and sports, and so I looked for some mindset stuff and ran across this program. Of course, the whole mother-daughter thing resonated with us and what we were looking for.
How did you find the time to prioritize this?
In terms of prioritizing time, sometimes you just have to put your phone down and just do the mental training activities.
My husband works multiple jobs. We’re self-employed. And there are constantly a million things to do. So, we have to carefully prioritize what’s important to us and put down distractions.
From week to week, we all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of schedule. So, we find time to regroup on Saturdays or Sundays. We ask each other what our priorities are for the week. When is this gonna fit into our schedule?
It’s not easy, but we try to do the activities as many days as possible and, and make it a habit.
As a mom of female athletes, it’s a helpful thing to be more proactive and to look and notice what’s going on. Are they having a difficult time handling the pressure of sports?
Just like a goalkeeper, our female athletes will go through a tremendous amount of pressure as they grow older. It’s going to be hard if they have never been trained in how to handle pressure, if they don’t have an idea what it feels like, and are clueless about what to do in those situations.
So, provide opportunities for them to work on their mental game. It will give them the right skills to become more self-aware and acquire a process to navigate through their way of thinking. You can start young and prepare them to face difficulties before they start to inhabit limiting beliefs. Working on their mental game will help them be more confident, thoughtful, and focused on the process rather than the outcome.
Work with your daughter through this. It will be great if you also have the right skills to be there for them and encourage them.
- Join our FREE training for Sports Moms – How To Strengthen Your Athlete Daughter’s Mental Game So She Believes In Herself As Much As You Do.
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