#165: Strategies to Help Your Athlete Stop Overthinking So She Can Play with Confidence

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Is your athlete overthinking on the field?

As a parent, it’s only natural to want the best for your young athlete. You’ve watched them grow, develop their skills, and truly enjoy the sport they love. However, as they progress in their athletic journey, you might notice a common issue creeping in – overthinking.

One common concern I often hear from parents is about their athletes overthinking during games. It can be frustrating to see your child picking their performance apart, ruminating over past mistakes, or even freezing due to excessive thoughts. Furthermore, overthinking can lead to a lack of confidence and hinder their ability to play freely. So, what can you do?

In this article, we’re going to delve into this issue and discuss strategies to help your athlete stop overthinking. Before we do that, though, I want to acknowledge a parent in our community who shared an inspiring story about her daughter’s progress.

Dee’s Success Story

Dee, a dedicated mom in our Elite Mental Game program, recently shared her daughter’s remarkable progress. Her daughter’s confidence in both her sport and academic performance improved significantly within just one week of joining the program. This story illustrates how mental training extends beyond sports and can positively impact various aspects of an athlete’s life.

Now, let’s explore effective strategies to help your athlete overcome overthinking and regain their confidence!

Understanding Overthinking

Overthinking can manifest differently in athletes, and its negative impact can be significant. Athletes may become consumed by unproductive thoughts, often leading to rumination over past scenarios or incidents. This never-ending rumination can manifest as indecision, hesitation, and a lack of trust in their abilities during competitions.

Strategies to Help Your Athlete Stop Overthinking

Inside our Elite Mental Game program, we employ several strategies to address the issue of overthinking at its root. Here are some key techniques that we use to help athletes overcome overthinking:

  • Targeting Perfectionism and Fear of Failure. Perfectionism and a fear of making mistakes can drive overthinking. We teach athletes to shift their mindset and embrace the purpose of mistakes in their development.
  • Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of staying present in the moment. Athletes learn to recognize unproductive thoughts and use mindfulness techniques to bring their focus back to the task at hand.
  • Journaling. Journaling helps athletes process their thoughts and emotions. It’s a research-based method that can be particularly effective in reducing rumination.
  • Redirecting and Reframing Thoughts. Athletes learn to recognize unproductive thoughts and reframe them into more positive and productive ones. This skill is essential in helping them regain focus and trust their instincts.
  • Visualization. Athletes visualize what they can control in a given situation. This helps them shift their focus from worrying about the future to concentrating on what they can influence. 
  • Labeling Emotions. Naming an emotion can help athletes process it more effectively. Recognizing and acknowledging emotions can reduce overthinking and improve decision-making.

Supporting Your Athlete: Your Role as a Parent

As a parent, your role is crucial in helping your athlete overcome overthinking. Here’s how you can support your child effectively:

  • Ensure She Has the Tools. Make sure that your athlete has access to the mental tools she needs to address overthinking. Encourage her to practice mindfulness and utilize visualization and self-talk techniques.
  • Give Her Less Cues. Keep the coaching cues to a minimum. Why? Too many cues can overwhelm your athlete, causing more overthinking. So, simplify your guidance.
  • Establish a Pre-Competition Routine. Help your athlete set up a pre-competition routine that prepares her mentally and emotionally for the game. Make sure it’s tailored to her specific needs and preferences.
  • Use Supportive Phrases. Use simple and reassuring phrases, like “trust your training” or “you’ve got this.” Reassure your athlete of your unwavering support, regardless of the outcome.

The Bottom Line

Overthinking can be a significant roadblock, but with the right strategies and parental support, your athlete can overcome it. By teaching your athlete how to manage their thoughts, maintain focus, and embrace their emotions, you’re setting them up for success not only in sports but in life.

So, take these insights and empower your young athlete to play with confidence, joy, and a fearless attitude. Good luck!

Episode Highlights:

[00:06] Helping athletes overcome overthinking and gain confidence. Discover how parents can help their athletes overcome overthinking and build confidence.

[01:57] Helping athletes overcome overthinking and perform with confidence. Overthinking can consume athletes, leading to unproductive thoughts and hesitation in competition.

[04:51] Strategies to help athletes overcome overthinking. Discover strategies for athletes and parents to address overthinking include mental training, self-talk, visualization, and reframing the role of mistakes in athletic development.

[09:16] Mindfulness techniques for athletes to overcome overthinking. Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment, and athletes can practice this skill through techniques like deep breathing, grounding, and visualization.

[13:34] Helping athletes overcome overthinking and perform at their best. Parents can help athletes overcome overthinking by using mindfulness, visualization, and reassuring language.

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