#202: Summer Confidence Series (Part 1 of 4): The Unintentional Ways Parents Lower Confidence In Their Athlete (and what to do instead)

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Do you ever wonder if your words are making your child feel less capable?

Have you caught yourself doubting your parenting methods, worrying that they might be chipping away at your child’s self-esteem? If so, you’re not alone. Many of us share these concerns and want to raise confident, well-rounded kids.

The question is: How do you raise confident, well-rounded kids? And how do you avoid unintentionally lowering your athlete’s confidence?

Keep reading to discover some common, subtle ways that we might unintentionally lower our child’s confidence. By spotting these habits, we can work on creating a more supportive and empowering environment for our children.

Unintentional Ways Parents Lower Confidence in Their Athlete (and What to Do Instead)
As sports parents, we never have ill intentions when it comes to what we say to our athletes. After all, we all just want to help them become the best that they can be, right? The problem is that there typically isn’t a manual when it comes to sports parenting. Without guidance, it’s easy to fall into certain habits or behaviors that might inadvertently harm your child’s confidence. Recognizing these common traps is the first step towards fostering a more supportive and empowering environment for your young athlete.

Here are some unintentional ways parents lower confidence in their athletes (and what to do instead):

  • Expecting the Coach to Teach Confidence

Many parents believe that the coach should be the one to teach mental toughness.  While coaches play a vital role, most lack the time or training to address the mental aspects of the game.  The good news is you can empower your daughter!

Most coaches focus on the physical and tactical aspects of the sport. They may not have the training or the time to address the mental side of the game. While some coaches do incorporate mental training into their practice, it’s not universally prioritized or standardized.

Parents place unrealistic expectations on the coach, believing that confidence will come solely from technical skill development and game strategy. This can lead to frustration for both the athlete and the parents when improvements in physical performance do not translate to increased confidence. The athlete might feel unsupported in an area that is crucial to her overall success and well-being.

Parents should take an active role in their child’s mental training. This can include providing resources such as books, workshops, or programs like The Elite Mental Game, which are specifically designed to build confidence and mental resilience. Additionally, parents can encourage open communication about mental challenges and celebrate small victories that contribute to building confidence.

  • Believing Confidence Comes with Experience

Thinking that your daughter’s confidence will magically improve as she gains experience is a trap. The higher she goes in her sport, the more will be expected of her. 

The reality is, while experience can be a factor in building confidence, it alone is not enough. Higher levels of competition bring more pressure and expectations, which can actually undermine confidence if the athlete is not mentally prepared. Experience without proper mental training can lead to repeated failures and reinforced negative self-perception.

Athletes may struggle to handle increased expectations and pressure as they progress. They might become more focused on avoiding mistakes than on performing well, leading to anxiety and decreased performance – this cycle can erode confidence over time.

So, what can you do? Incorporate mental training along with physical and tactical training. Teach athletes coping mechanisms for pressure and ways to reframe negative thoughts. Regularly practicing mindfulness, visualization, and positive self-talk can help athletes manage stress and build a resilient mindset. Parents should also model confident behavior and provide a supportive environment that emphasizes effort and growth over outcomes.

  • Thinking It’s Just a Phase

Negative self-talk, frustration with mistakes, and pre-game jitters are not phases – these are signs that your daughter lacks the tools to navigate the challenges of sports.

Confidence issues often stem from deeper mental and emotional challenges that won’t simply disappear with a change in environment. Skills – both physical and mental – transfer with the athlete, and without addressing the root causes, the same problems will persist regardless of the team or coach.

Moving to a new team or coach without addressing the underlying confidence issues can lead to repeated patterns of underperformance and frustration. The athlete may start to doubt her abilities and feel isolated in her struggles, leading to a decline in overall enjoyment of the sport.

Parents should work with their athlete to identify and address the specific challenges affecting her confidence. This can involve seeking the help of a mental performance coach, participating in confidence-building programs, or simply having open and honest conversations about her feelings and experiences. Focus on long-term development rather than quick fixes, and encourage resilience and adaptability.

 The Role of Mental Training

Confidence starts in your daughter’s mind before it becomes visible in her sport. Her brain can either limit her or allow her to achieve more than she ever thought possible. Negative self-talk and internalized challenges can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

The Elite Performance Formula. To achieve their goals and be happy in their sport, athletes need:

  • Knowledge of the Sport. Tactics and strategies.
  • Physical Training. Building physical skills and conditioning.
  • Mental Training. Developing the mental toughness to handle setbacks, pressure, and challenges.

This three-legged stool ensures that all areas are covered. Neglecting any one aspect (knowledge, physical training, or mental training) will lead to underperformance.

Three Steps to Building Your Athlete’s Mental Game

It’s very important for young athletes to develop mental toughness. Why? It helps them handle pressure, stay focused, and bounce back from setbacks.

Here are three steps to strengthen your athlete’s mental game, ensuring that they can perform their best both on and off the field.

  • Overcoming Mistakes

Athletes must learn to manage mistakes and setbacks quickly. Understanding what’s happening in their brain when mistakes occur is crucial. Providing tools to help them recover from mistakes will build resilience.

  • Flipping Negative Mindsets

Addressing negative self-talk and teaching athletes to speak positively to themselves is essential. Understanding the impact of negative thoughts on performance and providing tools to shift from negative to positive thinking can make a significant difference.

  • Being Her Safe Space

Parents need to be a source of support and encouragement. Knowing what to say and do before and after competitions is key to creating an environment where athletes feel safe to express their fears and challenges.

Final Thoughts

By addressing these three areas, we can avoid the common traps that lower our athlete’s confidence. Instead of relying on the coach, hoping time will fix things, or thinking it’s just a phase, we can empower our athletes with the tools they need to succeed. You can do it!

Episode Highlights: 

[00:28] Goal of the Podcast Series. Discover the purpose of this podcast series, focusing on building confidence in girl athletes through mental performance coaching.

[01:35] Member Highlight: Brittany. Highlighting a success story from our program, Brittany’s daughters overcame competition nerves and setbacks using mental training tools. It illustrates how effective mental strategies can transform performance under pressure.

[03:55] Common Traps for Sports Parents. Discussing pitfalls like expecting coaches to handle all mental aspects, assuming confidence grows naturally with experience, and viewing challenges as temporary phases. These misconceptions can hinder an athlete’s potential.

[10:25] Importance of Mental Training. Exploring how confidence starts in the mind and impacts performance on the field. Negative self-talk and unmanaged emotions can significantly affect an athlete’s ability to perform at their best.

[12:28] Elite Performance Formula. Introducing our approach that combines sport knowledge, physical training, and mental skills as essential components for athlete success. This holistic formula enhances performance and resilience across all levels of competition.

[18:07] Upcoming Summer Confidence Series. Previewing future episodes focusing on practical strategies: overcoming mistakes, flipping negative mindsets, and becoming a supportive safe space for athletes. These insights aim to empower parents to actively support their child’s mental growth.

Next Steps:

  • 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
  • Enroll in The Elite Mental Game – our self-paced training program proven to strengthen your athlete’s mental game and confidence with a $400 discount here!
  • Visit our podcast website for more great episodes

Thank you in advance for joining us on our mission and leaving a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

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