#76: Q&A: How To Teach Your Athlete To Not Let Up

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How can we help our female athletes get back up from a mistake and not shy away? 

Here is a magic question to help your daughter with those moments she wants to let up and pull back. I believe so many parents have seen their daughter hesitate after making a mistake and pull back from trying again. One great strategy that is helpful in this situation is— asking the right questions

We’re going to talk about the concept of this strategy below and more tips to mentally help your daughter get through this. 

Most of us believe that mindset training is only for those that are struggling, or you need to be in high school. But the truth is the earlier we start training our minds the better! The earlier we can have our athletes know and believe that their mind is their biggest muscle, the more they can optimize it.

So let’s start!

Asking The Right Questions

“My child has a hard outside hit (volleyball). Lately, though she’s been letting up. I asked her why. Her answer was she’s afraid of being blocked. I understand there are strategies and you can’t always “kill” the ball. How do we teach them to not be afraid and to count on their teammates to have your back if one is blocked?”

This is one of the concerns of many moms in our Elite Competitor Program. It’s this situation where our daughters make a mistake and then they hesitate. They’re a little shy to want to try it again. And maybe they’re just afraid that they’re going to make that same mistake. Having those reasons in their head, they pull back instead of being aggressive or trying again. They sometimes stop trying something different and their solution is pulling back afraid of doing the same mistake again. 

Dealing with this situation is tangible and critical. Asking the right questions will help you and your daughter determine the right next steps. Here are some good questions you could ask your daughter in times like this. 

1. Why?

In the example we have, it’s a good thing that the mom asked her daughter about “why” she’s pulling back. That’s how we know what’s happening inside their thoughts.

For this instance, it’s because her daughter was afraid. Every time our athletes let fear drive the car, they’ll be hesitant and they pull back. The good thing about this is the mom noticed something was off and she was quick to ask. It’s great that her daughter answered truthfully and shared her feelings with her mom. 

As her mom, you have to validate her feelings when this happens. Don’t make it seem like what she’s feeling was wrong and she had to snap out of it. Reassuring and kind words will help a long way in building her confidence.

You can say something similar to this:

“First of all, like thank you for sharing this with me. I can see how you would feel that way. You know, you don’t want to make the same mistake again, that makes a lot of sense. 

And so I’m going to just talk about one specific strategy that I find pretty useful in a situation like this.”

This is just one part of what we teach moms inside our mental training program.

2. What else could you try?

The next thing that you can do to get her brain to think beyond is ask something like “what else could you try?” Or you could rephrase it and ask “have you tried something else?”. This way you’ll get her brain to think. It will surely work even if she doesn’t come up with an answer right at that moment, and that’s because our brain likes to solve problems. 

And when we ask our brain questions, it is primed to find the answers. So when you ask those questions your daughter’s thoughts would change direction. She will think about what else could she try instead of thinking about getting blocked and being shut down. 

Her brain will be open to the possibility of having an action plan by asking those kinds of questions.

And so just asking that question of what else have you tried? What else could you do in that situation? And have her brain kind of think of the answers. Then we can start to see those possibilities show up and some answers. 

3. What other options do you have?

What’s the worst that could happen? If you try again, what other options do you have?

These questions will help your daughter think of solutions instead of spiraling into her negative thoughts and fears. Even without spoon feeding her with sports tactics, just getting her to think outside of where she is mentally, currently enables her with skill. 

And that is what we’re trying to do with our athletes. We’re not just trying to spoon feed them the answers. We’re not trying to just fix it, put a bandaid on it, and tell her exactly what to do.

Remember that it’s important to help her build critical thinking skills. To be a problem solver and help herself get back on the game whenever there’s a disappointing situation. Validate her feelings and ask the right questions.

  • Ask her why 
  • Ask what else could she try
  • Ask what other options does she have

These are prompt questions to help her think things like “ what else could I do ”  instead of “ I don’t ever want to feel this again, so I’m just going to let up”.

These are just small pieces of things we teach in The Elite Competitor program. We also teach moms of athletes going through this program as they’re supporting their daughters. Most sports moms experience similar situations so I encourage you to try these strategies. 

Our brain is primed to find answers for questions, so if we ask good questions we’re going to equip our daughters to find good answers for themselves.


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