Most teenage athletes will never make first string or the equivalent of, but they may love their sport, and become an invaluable member of their team. As a coach or parent, your goal is to encourage teens to always do their personal best, and to teach the importance of perseverance. Even young athletes can experience performance anxiety, so help build their confidence with the tips below.
Don’t Compare Your Athlete To Others
Yes, watching someone else’s technique can prove invaluable, but there is sometimes a fine line between education and comparison. Both coaches and parents must be mindful of comparing performance, as it can be damaging to your athlete’s self-esteem. It can also have the exact opposite effect on their performance. Instead, encourage them to do their best, and motivate them with positive reinforcement.
Good sportsmanship doesn’t just refer to how athletes interact with their team on game day, but how everyone from coaches, parents, and teammates interact every single day. Coaches and parents must model supportive and positive behaviors. For example, if a teammate drops the ball—don’t blame them, embrace them—because who hasn’t dropped the ball before? Encourage everyone to do their best, while providing constructive feedback and ongoing challenges. And yes, your athlete can be disappointed in their performance, but they must show respect to the team and competitors.
For The Love Of The Game
Your young athletes work hard. They put in long hours on the field, in the pool, on the court, and at Competitive Edge. However, why do they do it? Encourage your athletes to do it for the love of the game, art form, or sport they choose. Yes, we know how much they want to win, place, or achieve a personal best—but when winning becomes the only goal, the love for their talent can get lost amidst the pressure of expectation. Whether they steadily continue to improve or have an off day, focus more on why they have selected their sport of choice, and how much joy it brings them.
Support Your Athlete Year-Round
Sports are a commitment for coaches, parents, and student athletes alike. You child may play multiple sports or have a primary sport. Whichever it may be, you must support their athletic aspiration year-round. This goes beyond muscle memory and perfect technique, but to a whole-body approach to performance. This could include cross-training, off-season training, testing new equipment and gear, complementary services, and even upgrading to a diet that supports your growing athlete’s unique nutritional needs.
Last but not least, practice makes perfect—so make sure your athlete is on time for all practices, games, classes, and sports clinics.