#122: 5 Ways To Get Your Athlete Daughter To Be More Aggressive In Her Sport So She Can Compete Confidently Without Holding Back

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Do you have an athlete daughter who has a big inner drive, but you find that she’s holding back in her sport? In today’s episode, we’re talking about how you can help your daughter be more aggressive in her sport so she can compete with confidence.

5 Ways To Help Your Daughter Be More Aggressive In Her Sport So She Can Compete Without Holding Back 

1. Realize and understand why she’s holding back 

If your daughter is holding back, there’s likely a reason behind it. Here are some ideas of what your daughter might be experiencing that is making her want to hold back:

  • Perceived limitations: 
    • She might believe that she has physical characteristics that are holding her back Some examples could be:
      • “I’m too slow”
      • “I’m too young”
      • “I’m not tall enough” 
      • “I don’t have enough experience”
    • She might have an idea of what she believes the “ideal athlete” looks like or competes like. And if she’s determined that she doesn’t fit this “mold”, then she might not be able to perform as well as she really can. What athletes believe about themselves determines how they show up to compete. 
  • Personality:
    • Her personality might not be “aggressive” at all, and she might be more introverted, shy, or quiet. It’s possible that she might want to play more of a support role and let someone else take the lead.
    • It’s also possible that they worry that other athletes or their teammates will perceive them as rude, pushy, or mean if they play aggressively. We tend to see this a lot with female athletes – they don’t want to step up for fear of stepping on anyone’s toes. But by not being themselves, they are doing a disservice to themselves and their team!
    • Some athletes’ personalities don’t lean towards the aggressive type. And if this is your daughter, you know her well enough to know that this might be her. There’s nothing wrong with this! 
  • Fear:
    • She might be facing fears that hold her back, such as:
      • Making a mistake 
      • Disappointing teammates 
      • Letting down her coach or her parents 
      • Fear of the spotlight 
      • Fear of outshining others 
    • If your athlete is experiencing fear, it’s possible that she’s not aware that she’s hesitating due to fear. Your daughter might believe that it’s safer to “pull back” and avoid making mistakes, rather than making mistakes and working through them.
  • Confusion: 
    • Your daughter could be holding back because she’s not sure what’s expected of her in her role on her team. When athletes don’t know what their role is, they don’t feel confident in what they’re doing, and they may start to pull back.

2. Ask yourself, “Is her lack of aggression actually a problem? Or is it only a problem for me?”

Is your daughter enjoying her sport? Is she having fun when she plays? Is she achieving the goals she has for herself in her sport? The only way to know – ask her! 

The truth is, it can be hard as parents to watch our kids play their sport because we can get so invested. Sometimes, we’re guilty of attaching our own self-worth to the success of our athlete. 

We have to pause and ask ourselves if this is a problem for her, or only for me? When we ask her and ourselves, we’ll be more self-aware. Don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself! If this is you, you’re not alone.

3. Be aware of where you’re placing praise and recognition

This is a long game, but it’s worth it. Look at how you’re praising and recognizing your daughter in her sport – are you only acknowledging the outcomes? 

When we only praise the outcomes and not her inputs, she starts to believe that the outcome is the only thing that gets recognized. But, we want them to know how much we love them, regardless of their performance. Be aware and intentional of where you’re placing your praise and recognition. Focus on highlighting the things in her control.

Instead of praising outcomes, try praising things like:

  • The process, her training, how hard she’s practicing 
  • The ways she’s a great teammate 
  • The ways she got back up and tried again after making a mistake

4. Give her the skills to navigate mistakes and handle the pressure

One of the best things you can do to help your daughter feel more confident in her sport is to help give her skills to navigate mistakes and pressures. Making mistakes and feeling pressure is inevitable for athletes, and it’s normal! But you can’t be in her brain when she’s experiencing these things.

So instead, we can give her tools to help navigate this, and help her to feel more confident when these feelings arise. Does she have a failure recovery method? What does her relationship with pressure look like? 

These skills aren’t just picked up along the way, and most of the time they aren’t being taught to her by her coach either. These skills are just like physical skills – they can be taught, practiced, and learned. 

5. The alter ego technique 

It can be hard for athletes to reconcile who they are in their sport and who they are outside of it. When an athlete embraces an alter ego while they play, this can give them the freedom to be someone different while they compete.

To help athletes determine their alter ego:

  • Have them write down the qualities of the athlete they want to be on the court 
  • Have them brainstorm about what this athlete would look like, how they would be fearless
  • Then, have your athlete assign an animal to these characteristics by having them read through their list, and then determining which animal they think of – whatever works for them is best! 
  • Then, have her channel this animal whenever she competes – it really works! 

Recap:

  1. Realize and understand why she’s holding back 
  2. Ask yourself, “Is her lack of aggression actually a problem? Or is it only a problem for me?”
  3. Be aware of where you’re placing praise and recognition
  4. Give her the skills to navigate mistakes and handle the pressure
  5. The alter ego technique

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