#37: What Age Should Your Athlete Daughter Start Mental Training?

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I have been giving my daughter mental training lessons since she was 2 years old.

Every day, we practice affirmations:

I am strong.

I am confident.

I can do hard things.

I am unique.

Every day, we practice using our breath to help us through moments of frustration, anxiety, or fear.

Every day, we plan and imagine how we want our day to look like (and what we want to feel like).

Yep, these simple skills are absolutely training my daughter’s mind.

While I might not be going full-blown into having her create her pre-competition routine or hype number (yet), what I am doing is providing her with the awareness of the power of her mind and the influence she has to respond to the environment around her.

And that’s exactly what Mental Training is!

The training of our thoughts, behaviors, and actions to navigate any situation.

It’s deciding that we have control over our thoughts and reactions.

It’s declaring ahead of time through affirmation and visualization the athlete (and person) we want to be.

It’s the ability to sit with uncomfortable emotions knowing that they are okay.

Mental training is using our minds to work for us to get us closer to our goals.

When is the perfect age to start this type of training in athletes? Here are some considerations:

Mental Training Should Be Started As Early As Possible

It’s just like her sport. She starts learning body awareness. Ball handling skills. Dribbling in open space. Then around cones or with other people. Each stage of the game levels up her knowledge and experience, building on what was previously learned.

The mental training skills that athletes can learn when they are young include things like awareness of emotions, response to nervousness, visualizing how they want to play, learning how to breathe properly, and affirmations as reminders of who they are.

When athletes are young, they typically aren’t dealing with some of the added pressures and expectations of their sport. They learn in those moments to build a solid foundation of productive self-talk, confident body language, and how to respond to mistakes and negative thinking.

The parents of the younger athletes in our program report that they are so relieved that their daughter’s are learning these skills now, not later. It gives them a “one-up” and a competitive advantage!

Mental Training Will Look Different At Each Stage of Their Journey

As athlete’s grow, they apply these skills to situations as they level up. It’s backwards to think that “once they get to a certain level, then they will develop the confidence they need.”

They need to develop the skills first so they can then use them at those levels!

It’s amazing to have athletes go through the Elite Competitor Program when they are younger (10-12 years old) as well as older (16-college aged).

They are utilizing the skills differently and are able to go back through the modules with new awareness and “challenges” they are facing in their sport.

Like any skill, mental skills that make athletes confident aren’t just learned once.

Athletes’ don’t just go to a skills camp, learn the skills once, and have them mastered.

They are learned, practiced, challenged, and refined.

Athletes need constant exposure, reteaching, and accountability with their mental skills as well. 

At Whatever Age, The Best Time To Work on Mental Skills Was Yesterday

The next best time is now.

You’ll never regret teaching your daughter the power of her mind.

The ability to see that she has power to respond to situations, change how she thinks about things, and create the reality around her is a skill that can start at a young age.

Practicing awareness of self-talk and how to regulate nerves using breath and imagery is a key skill that experienced, high level athletes use. What’s amazing is that these skills are accessible to athletes as soon as they start competing!

Many parents wait until their athlete is “struggling” to bring in the mental part of the game.

While it’s helpful any time, the best time is to equip athletes with mental skills before they get into challenging situations.

Elite athletes respond.

Average athletes react.

If your daughter is between the ages of 10-18 specifically, then the Elite Competitor Program can be a useful tool to help build her foundation of mental skills. We find the sweet spot is between 12-15 years old. After that, athletes absolutely need to be mental training. They might need to do a little more “undoing” of negative thought patterns at that age.

We find that the younger the athlete is coming through the program, the more parent support she might need. This looks like doing the program with her and utilizing the parent guide we include.

If she’s younger than 10 and not quite ready for a full-blown ECP yet, make sure you are talking to her about the power of her mindset. Draw attention to the nerves and help her reframe them as excitement. Talk about the importance of affirmations and visualization. All exposure is necessary.

She has lifetime access to the program, so it truly is something that will grow with her in different seasons and stages of her athletic journey.

To check out our signature mental training program for female athletes, head to www.kristinabreanne.com/ecp

To Recap:

  • Mental Training Should Be Started As Early As Possible
  • Mental Training Will Look Different At Each Stage of Their Journey
  • At Whatever Age, The Best Time To Work on Mental Skills Was Yesterday

Remember – your daughter’s mindset is her biggest competitive advantage.


Helpful Links:

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