#139: In-Season or Out of Season.. Which Is Best For Working On Your Athlete’s Mental Game?

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Welcome back to the Raising Unstoppable Girl Athletes podcast! I’m Coach Bre, an Elite Competitor coach for girl athletes, and I’m thrilled to have you here. Whether you’re new to the sports mom journey or have been through many seasons, this podcast is designed to help you support your daughter in playing with confidence, reaching her potential, and enjoying her sport.

Today, we’re diving into an important topic: When is the best time to work on your athlete’s mental game? Let’s explore the options and consider what works best for your daughter!

When Is the Best Time to Work on Your Athlete’s Mental Game?

In this episode, we discuss the importance of training the mental side of the game for girl athletes. We cover common challenges they face, such as handling pressure, managing expectations, overcoming mistakes, and having difficult conversations. While these aspects are often expected of athletes, they are not always taught how to navigate them effectively. That’s where our mental training program comes in – to provide the skills and tools for girls to play to their potential and enjoy their sports.

To illustrate the positive impact of mental training, we hear from two moms in our community. Jana, whose daughter struggled mentally during the season, expressed gratitude for finding our program. Another mom (also named Janna) also shared her excitement and the valuable information she gained from the program.

Two Types of Sports Parents

Now, let’s discuss two common types of sports parents: the “wait and see” parent and the proactive parent.

The Wait and See Parent.

The “wait and see” parent is often characterized by a hands-off approach when it comes to their daughter’s mental game. They may adopt the mindset that things will naturally work out for their child without actively addressing the mental side of sports. This type of parent might believe that their daughter is naturally resilient or that the coach will take care of teaching the necessary mental skills.

While this approach may stem from a place of trust in the coach or confidence in their child’s abilities, it can also lead to missed opportunities for growth. By relying solely on external factors, such as the coach or natural talent, the “wait and see” parent may unintentionally neglect the important role of mental training in their daughter’s development.

The Proactive Parent.

In contrast, the proactive parent recognizes the significance of mental training in their daughter’s sports journey. They understand that the mental game is not something athletes are born with but rather a skill set that needs to be developed. These parents take the initiative to equip their daughters with the necessary mental skills and strategies to thrive both on and off the field.

Proactive parents understand that even the most talented athletes can struggle with handling pressure, managing expectations, overcoming mistakes, and navigating challenging conversations. They know that by proactively addressing these aspects, their daughters can develop a strong mental foundation, enabling them to perform at their best and enjoy their sports to the fullest.

It’s important to emphasize that all athletes face similar challenges in their sports journey. The ability to handle pressure, comparisons, expectations, and disappointments doesn’t happen naturally – it requires training. Many coaches are not specifically trained in the mental side of the game, which is why proactive parents take the initiative to equip their daughters with the necessary mental skills and strategies.

Choosing the Right Approach

As a sports parent, it’s essential to reflect on your own approach and determine which type of parent you align with. Are you more inclined to adopt a “wait and see” approach, hoping that everything will work out on its own? Or, do you see yourself as a proactive parent, actively seeking resources and support to enhance your daughter’s mental game?

Recognizing the value of mental training and understanding the role it plays in your daughter’s athletic journey can help guide your decision. Remember, as a proactive parent, you have the power to provide your daughter with a competitive advantage by equipping her with the mental skills she needs to succeed.

Timing Considerations

Now that we understand the importance of mental training, let’s explore the question of when it’s best to focus on your daughter’s mental game. While there is no wrong time to start, certain periods can be more favorable for effective mental training. One such period is the summer or off-season. Here’s why:

Time Freedom.

During the summer or off-season, athletes often have more time freedom compared to the regular season. This means they have more flexibility in their schedules and fewer commitments. Utilizing this period for mental training allows athletes to allocate sufficient time and focus on developing their mental skills without the added pressures of competitions and practices. They can dedicate themselves fully to the process, enhancing their mental game in a more relaxed environment.

Continued Physical Training.

Although the summer or off-season may not involve intense competitions, athletes typically maintain some level of physical training during this time. This creates a valuable opportunity to integrate mental skills with physical training. By applying the mental techniques and strategies in a lower-stakes environment, athletes can gradually build their confidence and competence. This integration helps them understand the practical application of mental training and reinforces the importance of mental skills in their overall performance.

Reduced Performance Pressure.

Engaging in mental training during the summer or off-season can alleviate some of the performance pressures athletes may experience during the regular season. In the absence of immediate competitions, athletes can focus on the learning and growth aspects of mental training without the fear of immediate results or consequences. This freedom allows them to explore different techniques, experiment with strategies, and make mistakes without the fear of failure. It creates a supportive environment for athletes to develop their mental resilience and adaptability.

Preparation for the Upcoming Season.

Utilizing the summer or off-season for mental training sets athletes up for success in the upcoming season. By addressing the mental aspects of sports during this period, athletes can establish a solid foundation of mental skills that they can carry into their training and competitions. It provides them with a head start and allows them to be mentally prepared for the challenges they may encounter during the regular season. This proactive approach enhances their overall performance and increases their chances of achieving their goals.

Final Thoughts

Nurturing your daughter’s mental game is a crucial aspect of her sports journey. As a proactive parent, you understand that mental training is necessary to equip her with the skills she needs to navigate challenges effectively. While there is no bad time to start, the summer or off-season can offer the flexibility and freedom to fully commit to mental training.

Remember, it’s never too early or too late to empower your daughter with the mental skills she needs to thrive in her sport. Start today and watch her confidence soar!

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Raising Unstoppable Girl Athletes podcast. If you found value in this article, we encourage you to share it with a fellow sports parent or leave us a review. Your support helps us reach more parents and provide valuable content to support young female athletes everywhere. Thank you for being a part of our community!

 Episode Highlights: 

[00:00:30] Join Coach Bre as she delves into the factors you should consider when determining the right moment to focus on your athlete’s mental game. Discover the secrets to making informed decisions and learn from the experiences of others who have achieved remarkable results.

 [00:01:28] Sport Moms, Jana, a mom in our community who shared her daughter’s basketball journey. Despite struggles, she found our program helpful and is excited to apply the tools for the upcoming season. Another mom also praised the valuable information provided.

[00:03:53] There are two types of parents when it comes to their daughters’ sports. Parent 1 is the “wait and see” parent, hoping things will work out on their own and relying on the coach to teach the mental side of the game. Parent 2 is the proactive mom, understanding the importance of equipping their daughter with skills for both sports and life.

[00:09:06] The best time to work on your daughter’s mental game in sports is always now. Whether it’s the off-season or in-season, she will constantly face challenges, making it crucial to equip her with mental skills to navigate them effectively. Don’t wait, start now.

[00:11:00] Summer off-season is an ideal time to focus on mental training for athletes. With more time freedom during the summer, it becomes easier to dedicate time to develop mental skills without the same level of commitments during the regular season. 

[00:12:59] The in-season is also a favorable time for mental training. Athletes can apply what they learn quickly to their daily practice and training, allowing for immediate adjustments and feedback. However, the challenge lies in managing time constraints during the season.

[00:15:57] Coach Bre points out that the areas of focus for your daughter during the summer will probably differ from those during her competitive season. As she transitions to various sports or different seasons, her focus will likely shift accordingly.


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